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Virtual tourism to be adopted by Kumasi Zoo amidst COVID-19

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Coronavirus disease, a global pandemic which has affected many businesses and various trading sectors such as the stock market and import and exportation of goods and service have also taken a toll on the tourism industry.

Tourism is considered one of the hardest hits by the COVID-19 outbreak. The sector is experiencing a rapid and sharp drop in demand and a surge in job losses at global level, putting many Small and Medium Enterprises at risk.

According to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) the international tourist arrivals will be down by 20% to 30% in 2020 when compared with 2019 figures, equivalent to a loss of 300 to 450 US$ billion in international tourism receipts (exports), almost one-third of the US$ 1.5 trillion generated globally.

The direct contribution of the travel and tourism industry accounts today for 3.3% of the total global GDP and 4.4% in Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development countries (average) with picks of 14%, 13% and 18% for countries like Spain, Italy and Greece respectively.

Some countries are predicted to face more substantial blows than others due to their high reliance on the sector especially when considering an interesting comparison: out of the top 10 destinations by international tourists arrivals (France, Spain, United States, China, Italy, Turkey, Mexico, Germany, UK and Thailand), 8 result to be the hardest hit by COVID-19, implying that the economic shock on tourism will be further exacerbated in these countries.

Meanwhile, Strong shocks will also affect Sub-Saharan Africa where one out of twenty workers belongs to the tourism sector, a recent study from the African Union estimates that the tourism and travel sector in Africa could lose at least $50 billion due to the pandemic outbreak and at least 2 million direct and indirect jobs, with devastating effects for tourism spots like Seychelles, Cape Verde, Mauritius and The Gambia will shrink at least 7%.

In Ghana, the Zoo is currently of the sub-sectors facing that challenge, managers of the Kumasi Zoo are calling on government and authorities in the sector to come up with some measures to sustain the industry even in the wake of the pandemic.

A visit to the Kumasi Zoo showed that the measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus has caused a complete shutdown of the Zoo leading to loss of revenue and income generation.

The Manager of the Kumasi Zoo Dr. Meyir Ziekah stated that the Zoo faced some difficulties and challenges last year before the pandemic because of the Kejetia market construction which led to a roadblock preventing tourist from visiting the Zoo.

“Together with the drive to redevelop the zoo by bringing in key animals such as lions that were not here, we have seen an increase in the number of tourists that come to the Zoo. For instance, in 2018, the number of tourists we had was about 17,000 for the whole year.”

“And in 2019, we recorded almost 60,000 visitors, and that was about 300% increment in terms of the number of tourists that visited us. As a result of the Year of Return Program that we had tourists also coming in from outside the country and from Accra to Kumasi because of the cultural name that Kumasi has, we also had a fair share of that number of visitors,” he said.

He also said although the Zoo saw a 300% rise in the number of tourists that visited particularly during the Year of Return after the facility was revamped with new animals such as lions; the COVID-19 pandemic has changed a lot in terms of its operations.

According to him, there is no revenue being generated currently due to the closure of the Zoo even though they are mandated to feed and take care of the animals. He noted workers have not been laid off because they’re on the public sector payroll which is a good thing if not they wouldn’t know how to pay their staffs.

“It is very important that experts come together to see the way forward. The dos and don’ts that we should do as a people that will guide us to open up our system back to normal activities.”

“In terms of tourism, in terms of education, in terms of other aspects of our daily lives. If we watch the figures that come out from Ghana Health Service, I think we are not there yet. But what we have been thinking of is that putting some measures in place so that in case the system is opened up, we are thinking of some protocols in place so that our tourism industry can still survive” he noted.

Dr. Meyir Ziekah added that authorities must find ways for the facility to keep running; amidst adherence to COVID-19 safety.

By Amos Ekow Coffie | talksafrica.com

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