VICTORIA FALLS — The liquidity crunch which has gripped the country has affected domestic tourism, especially in Victoria Falls where local tourists become stranded after failing to access their cash from the banks.
The country’s banks battle a biting liquidity crunch which has been worsened by increased cash demands ahead of the festive season leading into cash riots at some banks.
On Monday civil servants ran amok at Allied Bank in Harare beating up a branch manager and destroying glass doors as they demanded their money.
President of the Employers’ Association of Tourism and Safari Operators and Shearwater Adventures group public relations manager Clement Mukwasi yesterday confirmed the new development, but was quick to say the situation did not affect international tourists.
“It’s true that the cash problems have affected local tourists who are coming to the resort town for holidaying. Most of them come with the view of withdrawing their cash from here and find some banks, especially troubled ones, with no cash,” Mukwasi said.
“The situation has affected their spending on activities which need cash. Mostly, our local banks used by local tourists are experiencing cash shortages.”
He, however, advised international tourists not to panic saying banks with Visa cards facilities in the resort town had ready cash.
“Most of our international tourists use Visa cards and these have not been affected. We should not send alarm to our international tourists as everything is in order for them to have their pleasant holiday in the resort town. The problem is isolated to domestic tourism,” he said.
Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe Victoria Falls chapter chairman Jonathan Hudson concurred with Mukwasi that international tourists had not been affected.
“Those who could have been affected are banking with some troubled banks which recently have not been having cash to give to depositors. However, I have been talking to the banks which use the Visa cards. They said they have no cash problems and our international tourists are not affected,” Hudson said.
Victoria Falls is recording a brisk business ahead of the festive season as tourism players cash in on the influx of domestic and international visitors for the Christmas and New Year holidays as well as the forthcoming annual Victoria Falls Carnival scheduled for December 29 and 30.
Hotels and lodges are fully booked and there is very little accommodation still left for visitors who had hoped to spend the festive season in the resort town, home to one of nature’s grandstands, Mosi Oa Tunya (the smoke that thunders).
The increase in tourist arrivals is also likely to boost income for residents who let out their houses during this period.
Victoria Falls has eight banks, CBZ, FBC, Barclays, Tetrad, Allied Bank, CABS, Kingdom and Standard Chartered — most of these use Visa cards.
However, the liquidity crunch could dampen the spirit of holidaying by local tourists as they would not have enough cash to spend on activities offered by tour operators which call for cash up front.