HARARE, June 7 (The Source) – The British government on Tuesday warned its citizens intending to travel to Zimbabwe on possible difficulties they are likely to face when visiting the country as a result of current cash shortages.
The warning comes as the tourism sector has already rung alarm bells on the toll the cash squeeze is already having onthe sector.
Banknote shortages have become a feature in the past two months, resulting in long bank queues which have been fuelled by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe’s announcement of the impending introduction of local “bond notes,” which many Zimbabweans fear signal the return of a hated local currency.
Zimbabwe ditched its hyperinflation-ravaged currency in 2009 and adopted the use of multi[le foreign currencies, chiefly the United States dollar and South Africa’s rand.
In an updated travel advisory, the UK government urged its citizens “to have enough US dollar notes” when traveling to Zimbabwe.
“Almost all transactions are conducted in US dollars. Zimbabwe is currently experiencing a shortage of cash. It is not currently possible to make cash withdrawals using an international bank card,” read the advisory.
While crime levels were described as “moderate,” the economy was said to be “increasingly fragile.”
“Credit and debit cards are increasing in circulation but you should check in advance if a restaurant or hotel will accept them,” the UK advised.
The UK is one of Zimbabwe’s major tourist source markets and the advisory will likely affect arrivals.
Zimbabwe Council for Tourism chief executive Paul Matamisa said tourism, like any other sector of the economy was, already being affected by the shortages.
“Right now people can’t access their cash. If people cannot access money then it affects tourism in that they cannot even use the money to go for holidays,” he said.
“They (foreign tourists) were not accessing their money and they can’t use their cards.”
Matamisa however said some banks had assured the industry that foreign visitors would still be able to use their cards to access money.
Even before the shortages, most resorts in the country were criticised for not promoting the use of plastic money.