Over the last two years, the travel terrain has changed, but the necessity for adventure and connection has not. If recent adversity has taught us anything, it is adaptation. We have had to suspend our past perceptions of time, travel, space and personal boundaries. After navigating unknown waters, we are now more equipped with the skills to stay afloat, poised in anticipation as well as with solutions for unforeseen change.
A recent conversation between Managing Director of Hideaways, Garth Jenman and ATTA CEO, Chris Mears, demonstrates that travel is indeed possible, how to embrace flexibility and that Zimbabwe is open for adventure! Sharing his deep love for Zimbabwe, Garth sheds light on border access, travel protocols, flight connectivity and the social distancing benefits of a safari holiday.
Travelling is different to what everyone is used to. There is a level of trepidation involved, however if done in the correct way, with intention and awareness, fears and hurdles can be overcome. One of the biggest challenges has been the ever-changing protocols and flight connectivity between destinations, making planning a trip overwhelming.
“Normally we can put out a schedule for flight connectivity that will last the whole year, now we need to check on a weekly basis who is flying, as well as communicate with those on the ground as well,” shares Garth.
This challenge has been turned into a strength by the tourism industry, determined to survive. In the spirit of collaboration, through constant disruption to protocol and logistics, the travel tribe has had to armour themselves in information, acquiring new skills and facing problems together. This has created a network of support and close communication between operators. The industry in unity against the chaos.
Chris, who champions collaboration within the industry says, “A positive result of this period is the communication within the industry – we need each other. Creating solutions together, forging strong alliances, forming new circuits and sharing our collected wisdom.”
There is a wealth of knowledge and expertise within the travel industry because of this new level of cooperation. Compared to the overwhelming amount of travel information, and contradictory advice available online, direct clients are encouraged to source their travel advice from agents and other industry experts. “Trust your travel agent!” is the message from both Chris and Garth.
Chris feels that things are looking up for the industry, “It’s very encouraging to see some of the long-haul carriers resuming their services; Qatar Airways into Harare, Eurowings Discover into Victoria Falls”.
There is indeed light at the end of the travel tunnel. As borders open and flights resume it is possible to explore – to be the lesser spotted tourist and immerse yourself once again in foreign experiences. Adventure, enveloped in awareness, is available to those of us forced to have been armchair travellers during the past few months. The next challenge is changing our approach and accepting the new travel terrain.
Garth, who has travelled to Zimbabwe regularly since lock-down regulations have eased says, “Being out in wide open spaces and national parks reduces the chances of contracting Covid.”
On safari, in smaller lodges with less people, out in open spaces and away from crowds, there is less risk of human encounters. This truly is the best time to travel if you’re looking for a more exclusive African experience.
“All staff at the lodges are fully vaccinated, as well as over 60% of Victoria Falls town itself. With the government having prioritised the tourism sector for vaccinations, the majority of travellers will interact with a population of vaccinated locals, lowering risk for the health of the nation.” Garth
With vaccinations being distributed, as well as implemented safety protocols from the airport to the lodges and beyond, travel can be both an adventurous and responsible affair. Adventure wrapped in safety. However, we have a responsibility towards ourselves and each other to remain respectful to fellow travellers as well as staff and local communities on the ground.
Watch the full recording of the ATTA Webinar to inspire your next adventure to Zimbabwe. Contact your travel agent and keep the travel dream alive. Quench your curiosity and reconnect to Africa.