Harare. Zimbabwe has given the nod for international flights to resume, six months after it was forced to close its borders following the Covid-19 pandemic.
The southern Africa country has gradually been reopening its tourism sector amid fewer cases of the disease.
Domestic flights resumed on September 10 while international flights will be permitted from October 1.
Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, who doubles up as the Health minister, said the country is ready to receive international travellers.
“The port authorities and the ministry are coordinating well so that when tourists come here, they will not have any complaints.”
According to a government directive, international travellers will be required to produce certificates showing they tested negative for Covid-19 at least 48 hours prior to their trips.
As of September 21, Zimbabwe had recorded 7,706 Covid-19 cases including 226 deaths.
The number of new cases fell to below 50 a day in the last week with only 23 cases reported on Monday.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government, which reopened tourism facilities such as national parks in August, has also lifted a ban on inter-city travel.
Land borders, however, remain closed.
Rtd Gen Chiwenga said airports were being reopened to give the economy a lifeline.
“The re-opening of the tourism industry does not signify that the war against Covid-19 has been won,” he said.
“The purpose is to reopen the industry where employment and everything that goes on in the hospitality industry (is rescued). While we receive tourists, we make sure they are in good health (checked at airports) before they mingle with the people.”
Zimbabwe receives an average of two million tourists a year, but the number is expected to drop significantly this year due to virus-induced travel restrictions.
Tourism, alongside mining and tobacco exports, account for most of Zimbabwe’s foreign currency receipts. A persistent shortage of foreign currency has constrained the country from importing essentials such as fuel and medicines, which are in short supply.