[By Mohammad Bin Hafiz]
IT HAS now been well over six months since the world came to a halt, dramatically and in ways hard for us to imagine until it happened.
Global air travel was severely impacted in a matter of weeks soon after governments imposed travel restrictions and closed their borders.
The COVID-19 pandemic has presented us all an avenue to get back to the drawing board, and to reflect and reassess what is important. One thing for sure that has been made apparent is the importance of the travel and tourism industries to the global economy.
In 2018, travel and tourism was Zambias fastest-growing national economic sector, contributing as much as US $1,846.9 million (about K19.4 billion at the time) to the national economy, according to a report by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), and 318,900 jobs to the Zambian economy in 2018, making it the fastest growing sector in the country. In the same year, international visitors alone spent K8.4 billion, representing 8.3 percent of total Zambian exports.
Of course, these impressive statistics have been up-ended this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
From Lusaka to the world
As the new normal takes hold in Zambia, we may see some signs of economic recovery. And this is where the travel industry will play a pivotal role.
Emirates resumed flights direct from Lusaka to Dubai on September 4, 2020, reopening a vital route for the local economy, serving business and leisure travellers. For a landlocked country, the airline functions as a conduit linking Zambia to the rest of the world.
Our service resumption comes with thorough health and safety measures on board and on the ground.
Our network connects Zambia to the rest of the world; to major cities like Dubai, London, New York and Singapore, amongst others. We are connecting Lusaka to the worlds centres of commerce and trade on all continents.
We are focused and committed to our network, and we are working hard to rebuild it. We currently fly to 99 destinations.
We are very much aware of the concerns that travellers have flying in the new normal. As Emirates, we have tailored and adjusted our product and service offerings to keep our clients fears at bay.
Emirates has implemented a comprehensive set of measures at every step of the customer journey to ensure the safety of its customers and employees on the ground and in the air, including the distribution of complimentary hygiene kits containing masks, gloves, hand sanitiser and antibacterial wipes to all customers.
To ensure the safety and peace of mind of travellers, visitors, and the community, COVID-19 PCR tests are mandatory for all inbound passengers arriving from the designated countries or/and when the destination country requires it, including UAE residents and tourists. The COVID19 PCR test is no longer required for passengers connecting through Dubai, although it may be required at your final destination.
Emirates has you covered
Customers can now travel with confidence, as Emirates has committed to cover COVID-19 related medical expenses, free of cost, should they be diagnosed with COVID-19 during their travel while they are away from home. This cover is immediately effective for customers flying on Emirates until December 31, 2020, and is valid for 31 days from the moment they fly the first sector of their journey. This means Emirates customers can continue to benefit from the added assurance of this cover, even if they travel onwards to another city after arriving at their Emirates destination.
As we resume flights to more cities, giving customers the same confidence to fly beyond borders is critical to sustaining our hub operations in Dubai.
While the situation surrounding COVID-19 remains uncertain, Emirates is optimistic of the future and economic recovery of our markets. Come on board and fly with us.
Mohammad Bin Hafiz is country manager for Emirates in Zambia.
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