GREATER VISITOR NUMBERS LAST YEAR GIVE ZIMBABWE’S TOURISM INDUSTRY CAUSE FOR HOPE
(Posted 09th May 2017)
Mr. Karikoga Kaseke, the CEO of the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority, yesterday announced an increase in visitor numbers to the country of 5 percent to 2.167.686 in 2016, compared to 2.056.588 in 2015.
He attributed this rise to the security visitors find when coming to the country as one of the factors, the other being the opening of the new Victoria Falls International Airport which has since then attracted more flights to the country.
Said Karikoga in a statement seen: ‘The recent $ 150 million facelift of the Victoria Falls International Airport, which was commissioned by His Excellency, President R.G. Mugabe in November 2016 is a game changer for the travel and tourism sector as it ushers in a new era of the country’s tourism development.
Victoria Falls is now an emerging regional aviation hub, connected to major regional capitals such as Johannesburg, Pretoria, Lusaka, Luanda, Windhoek, Gaborone and Maputo. Going forward Victoria Falls is expected to be the main tourist hub for the SADC region given its centrality.
To date numerous international airlines have shown interest in landing in Zimbabwe and these include RwandAir which recently introducing direct flights from Kigali, Rwanda. Kenyan Airways has likewise recently launched a direct route connecting Nairobi, Victoria Falls and Cape Town. South African Airlink is also expected to introduce daily flights from Cape Town to Victoria Falls from July 2017. Ethiopian Airlines made its first direct flight from Addis Ababa to Victoria Falls on 26 March 2017‘.
He also commented on the challenging business environment for the private sector, which recently led to the closure of the Inn on Rupurara, when he added:
‘Whilst there have been some businesses which closed down in recent years due to economic challenges, recently there has been a notable rise in new investments. For instance the ZTA registered 28 new restaurants, 17 new guesthouses and 28 incentive travel organizers in the past 24 months. This goes to show that while things may seem grim, there are positive prospects in the country’s tourism sector‘.
He, in closing, also clarified on recent comments attributed to ZTA vis a vis the large number of security checks on Zimbabwean roads – also an issue raised by this correspondent in the wake of his visits to the country – when he concluded:
‘Recently there were some concerns raised in Victoria Falls in terms of how we need to improve our collaboration with the police for national development. My comments in Victoria Falls on the police roadblocks were misconstrued by some social commentators who thought we are against the ZRP check points. We are not against the very national duty that is ensuring peace and tranquility in the country. Where concerns have been raised by the tourism industry, we have positively engaged and we will continue to engage the ZRP.
We would want to categorically state that the ZTA and the entire tourism industry is in full support of the ZRP strategies to uphold law and order in the country. Tourists come to this destination to enjoy in a peaceful environment. We acknowledge and remain grateful to our police force for the role they have continued to professionally play‘.
Meanwhile are preparations for the annual Sanganai World Tourism Fair in Bulawayo in full swing ahead of the event which will be staged between 27th and 30th of September.
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