The Sunday News
THE Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe is seeking to partner the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority and other strategic partners in the tourism industry to jointly exhibit and sell the Zimbabwean package as one at the 2015 World Routes Forum in Durban, South Africa.
The World Routes Forum will be held at Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre from 19 to 22 September next year, making it the first time in history that the event is held in Africa.
Caaz public relations and communications manager Ms Anna Julia Hungwe said it was important to engage strategic airlines with the focus of encouraging and attracting them to come to Zimbabwe.
“CAAZ will engage ZTA and other strategic players in the tourism industry to jointly exhibit at the 2015 World Routes Forum in Durban. All CAAZ airports are ready to facilitate air transport and we will respond to demand derived from airlines and hence our adequate airport network and infrastructure. As a matter of fact, all our rehabilitation projects are on course,” she said.
Ms Hungwe said it was important for Zimbabwe to take advantage of the fact that the world’s largest aviation event is being held so close to the country.
Zimbabwe hosted Routes Africa 2014 where CAAZ organised a complementary tour of the Victoria Falls Airport expansion project for delegates.
“Our commitment to the development of the aviation sector is apparent and international buyers whom we engaged as during the recently held Sanganai/Hlanganani tourism event were happy to hear of the developments at Victoria Falls International Airport and this will improve international connectivity to the country through this resort town,” she said.
Air Zimbabwe acting chief executive officer, Mr Edmund Makona, said developing the aviation sector, rehabilitating and refurbishing airports was in line with the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (Zim Asset) cluster 3: infrastructure and utilities.
“Aviation is the way to go and the time to invest in this sector is now. It is time for people to look at aviation as the future of economic development,” said Mr Makona.
Players in the tourism industry said major issues that needed to be looked at to achieve economic growth in the country include having an open skies policy, attracting various airlines, completing airport projects within time as well as advocacy towards the Univisa system.
Shearwater corporate communications manager, Mr Clement Mukwasi, said limited airlines and long connectivity were major drawback factors in the tourism industry.
“Air connectivity is key to attracting investment and tourists to the destination. Right now when a tourist wants to fly into Zimbabwe from the United States, he or she has to go through Egypt and then Nairobi in Kenya before proceeding to Johannesburg then Zimbabwe and that deters interest.
These are issues we need to work on and come 2015 at the World Routes Forum where all major and minor airlines and airports will converge, we will present a united front and ensure that our policies attract and do not deter progress of the sector,” said Mr Mukwasi.
Mr Mukwasi said Victoria Falls has the potential to be an airline hub as it is strategically positioned right in the centre of southern Africa.
Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Walter Mzembi alluded to the fact that 51 percent of the world’s arrivals are by air and emphasised on the importance of bilateral airline service agreements to make Zimbabwe accessible.