By Luckmore Safuli
ZIMBABWE’S tourism capital Victoria Falls is among the global destinations embracing virtual tourism in the face of the COVID-19 induced closure of borders.
A computer-generated tour of the majestic and legendary Mosi-oa-Tunya is among the innovative products that have been introduced.
Since time immemorial necessity has been the mother of inventions.
Stuck with empty hotels, game parks and restaurants, most tour operators across the continent have turned to technology for solutions.
With Zimbabwean borders still closed following the outbreak of Covid-19 a tour operator in Victoria Falls has introduced a virtual tour of the popular and breathtaking Victoria Falls Rainforest to allow tourists across the world to experience the majesty of the world’s greatest curtain of falling water online.
“The virtual tour of Victoria Falls has been well received by the market. I think it has allowed people to escape the four walls of their homes during the lockdown period, which is important. It has also been used as an educational tool which was largely the intention of its creation in the first place,” said Megan Conn Bustracks Africa – Brand Manager.
Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe (HAZ) Victoria Falls Chairperson, Anald Musonza feels encouraged that tour operators are coming up with innovative ways to keep their businesses afloat during this difficult period.
“The reception has been amazing, to be honest. Through the virtual tour, we have been able to showcase our products and have the agencies have a sense of being with us.”
While technology has allowed adventure seekers across the globe to connect with popular destinations such as the Victoria Falls, the biggest question has been whether virtual tourism can be a perfect substitute for real travel, a question answered by Megan Conn.
“Is virtual tourism the future of travel? Well, l don’t think so. I think it has certainly become a global trend which is understandable given the way the world has advanced with technology. I don’t think it will be the entire future but will work hand in hand like a marketing tool, she said.
While a virtual tour of Victoria Falls may give one a good feel, for most adventure seekers who have visited the resort area before, there is nothing that beats the experience of standing before the world’s most spectacular waterfall and enjoying the sprays as gallons of water plunge down the gorge.
As the global hospitality industry prepares for the new normal, it awaits to be seen whether virtual tourism will transform the travel and tourism sector.
By Luckmore Safuli