TOURIST arrivals in Victoria Falls have gone down significantly due to ill-informed reports about the Ebola outbreak, officials have said.
A number of organisations have cancelled conferences scheduled for Victoria Falls citing the Ebola outbreak despite the fact that Zimbabwe has not reported any cases of the deadly disease.
Employers Association for Tourism and Safari Operators, president, Clement Mukwasi, without providing figures, said the false statements had seen tourist arrivals in Victoria Falls taking a knock.
“Firstly I have to confirm that indeed there has been a slump in tourist arrivals this period compared to the same period last year,” Mukwasi told Southern Eye Business.
“The main reason is the misguided utterances made by irresponsible people amongst us who make the statements without adequate information and research.
“These misguided elements are referring to the deadly Ebola scourge in West Africa as if it’s in Southern Africa.
“Our call as industry is that these people who are making these utterances must immediately desist from making them.
“Our call on the government is to revisit our laws and turn the heat on these people. Provisions of the law say should anyone make false claims which have the effect of harming the country, they are guilty of an offence,” Mukwasi said.
“We have never recorded an outbreak of Ebola in the region or Victoria Falls.”
He said the negative publicity regarding Zimbabwe’s preparedness for a possible Ebola outbreak, had militated against efforts to market Victoria Falls.
“We have put all the expertise to advertise this destination on the international arena and also measures have been put at all borders to screen visitors showing signs of the deadly disease and quickly detect Ebola,” Mukwasi said.
“However, as it stands we have nothing to show for all the efforts we made to market our destination. Let me hasten to say that the situation is not very critical as we have some informed tourists who are still coming into the country.
“The world should be told the truth, there is no reason for tourists to fear coming here because there has no Ebola outbreak detected in the region and Victoria Falls”.
Tourism minister Walter Mzembi has also in the past lashed out at individuals and organisations that cite the Ebola outbreak as reasons for cancelling conferences in Zimbabwe.
This was after the African Marketing Confederation cancelled the inaugural African Marketing Summit that was scheduled to be held in Victoria Falls last month citing Ebola fears.