Last weekend, more than 5,000 people – a mix of local and foreign tourists – visited the Unesco World Heritage Site on the Zambian side of the falls, which are poetically known as Mosi-oa-Tunya (the Smoke that Thunders) in the Lozi language.
Official statistics show that 5,211 people paid to view the falls that are on the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe, and another 608 tourists visited the on-site museum.
Zambia has been gradually reopening its tourism sector after months of a lockdown induced by the outbreak of COVID-19 early in the year.
Victoria falls Museum director George Mudenda was quoted by local media saying, “Domestic tourism can indeed contribute to the growth of the tourism sector. With the re-opening of Victoria Falls, as we have seen, the number of visits by local tourists (is) gradually increasing.”
Zambia has reopened its borders to visitors, and has also been pushing domestic tourism by offering concessional packages to locals.
Since February 4, according to Zambia’s government, the country has lost tourism receipts amounting to US$400 million because of global restrictions on travel imposed as a new coronavirus control measure.
Tourism Minister Ronald Chitotela this week said, “The loss was due to cancellation of travels as well as the closure of hotels. Experts have done a projection and jobs are being threatened in the tourism sector. A committee had been constituted to look at the challenges in the tourism sector, with the government considering providing incentives for the sector.”
The African Union has estimated that the continent could lose US$500 billion in the tourism and aviation sectors this year, with millions of jobs on the line.