Zambia opens airports as tourism sector 'back to work'

By: AFP      Published: 07:35 PM, 25 Jun, 2020
Zambia opens airports as tourism sector 'back to work'

Zambia's President Edgar Lungu on Thursday announced the immediate reopening of all three of the landlocked country's international airports to help revitalise the tourism sector hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

Lungu said decreased economic activity since the start of April caused a loss in revenues of 20.8 billion kwachas ($1.1 billion).

He announced the reopening of the three international airports with "immediate" effect to help boost earnings, adding: "In the tourism  sector... we have also got to get back to work." 

Zambia's tourism industry -- with the stunning Victoria Falls as its flagship attraction -- contributed $1.8 billion to the national economy in 2018, according to data by the World Travel and Tourism Council. 

Lungu directed the ministers of communication, finance, home affairs and tourism to work together to devise  stringent health guidelines for arriving tourists. 

Over the last 24 hours, Zambia recorded eight new coronavirus cases, for a total of 1,497 with 18 deaths. The number of recoveries now stands at 1,223.

The president urged Zambia's more than 17 million citizens to observe high standards of hygiene as the winter season peaks in the southern hemisphere, warning that the numbers of coronavirus cases in Zambia could soar.

However, bars and nightclubs remain closed.