The COVID-19 pandemic led to a massive decline in the tourism sector, and Zimbabwe was not spared either.
Although Nyanga is one of the most beautiful places in Zimbabwe, most people want to visit the might Victoria Falls, mainly due to the poor marketing of the mountainous place.
Tourism had already been under strain in Nyanga before the pandemic and this situation was exacerbated in 2020 and 2021 when Harare and other countries introduced travel bans to curb the spreading of COVID-19.
A Nyanga Rhodes Museum, situated next to Rhodes Nyanga Hotel, attracts the interest of tourists.
However, the museum curator Marshall Nyanhanda told correspondent of Eco-Tourism Expert in an exclusive interview, that foreign tourists are scarce.
He said this left their operations being supported by domestic tourists who often visit in groups as several local travel agents arrange weekend trips to Nyanga.
- How were you affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?
- Since the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic we were much affected to such an extent that our plans and development at the museum halted. All the developments at the museum rely on the revenue generated monthly. The revenue generated look after the museum and workers as well. In particular, the tourism sector was affected to such an extent that most people lost their jobs and some hotels were closed.
- How do you generate revenue through the museum?
- Through entrance fees, visitors pay.
- With travel restrictions having been relaxed in Zimbabwe, what has been the level of tourist visits to the museum?
- Since the relaxation of the travel restrictions, the level of tourists coming to the museum has increased though not pretty much faster, but better than the 2020-2021 period. I have also seen some international tourists mostly from Europe visiting. However, most of the visitors are local, meaning we are relying on domestic tourism, mostly.
- What are you doing to attract tourists to your museum?
- Eventually, we have created a lot of social media accounts such as Facebook, Twitter, Trip Advisor, Instagram and Google business. We do use these social media platforms to attract more visitors.
- What is the level of foreign tourist visits to the museum?
- The level of foreign visitors hasn’t increased so much, they are coming at a tortoise pace. However, due to the relaxation of travel restrictions, we hope to see many coming to Zimbabwe. The government is also trying its best to market the country’s tourism.
- You had been attracting mainly local school children in the past. Are you now registering visits from elderly domestic tourists?
- In terms of schools, yes we have seen one or two coming but mainly private schools. I am not sure if the government has allowed public schools to do school trips
- What is unique about the museum?
- The museum is very unique in such a way that it is the only museum that exhibits Cecil John Rhodes and also it has managed to [provide] a balanced history of the country from the [British South Africa Company (BSAC)] to the present. Our vision is to go digital just like what they are doing in Europe. The museum has also been involved in several school heritage projects with local schools in a bid to equip students with the heritage of the country.
- What is the level of support that you are getting from the government?
- We do not get any support from the government, we do generate revenue from entry fees to the museum revenue. Even during the pandemic, we never got anything from the government. We managed to fight our own battle.