Features

COVID hits Zambia’s tourism jewel

GAME viewing is one of the tourist attractions in Mfuwe, but the outbreak of the coronavirus has halted tourism activities. PICTURE: COURTESY OF FLATDOGS CAMP

BENEDICT TEMBO, Lusaka
FOR tour operators in Mfuwe in the South Luangwa National Park (SLNP), 2020 looked like a promising year, with operators recording a high number of bookings for the emerald season.
The emerald season (rainy season) presents Zambia’s tourism jewel in its verdure glory, with lush forests and full-flowing rivers. It is arguably the best time to visit the park.
But then came coronavirus or COVID-19. And as soon it started affecting some African countries, tour operators in Mfuwe, in Mambwe district, started seeing a lot of cancellations.
“Eventually some camps and lodges started closing their doors, as well as sending their staff on unpaid leave, cut salaries and many more, just to be able to survive until when the situation settles down,” says Yonna Banda, the South Luangwa Guides Association chairperson.
Mr Banda says the combination of floods experienced in late December, into early January, and the COVID-19 pandemic, means that everything has become expensive as there is very little cash in circulation, compounded by a very high exchange rate.
There are about 20 safari companies operating camps in the area. Some camps are located within the park, while others are outside.
Some companies operate seasonal camps in the park from June to October, while others, like Flatdogs Camp, only have camps outside the park.
In total, there are 60 camps in the area, varying in size from as small as six-bed to CLICK TO READ MORE


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