HAZ calls for increased air connectivity

Published: 01 January 2019
The Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe (HAZ) says prospects are bright for the tourism sector if Government improves connectivity of tourist centres by air.

Further, HAZ called on the Government to provide financial support towards documentation of existing and potential tourist attraction centres and also create an environment that is conducive for the promotion of domestic tourism under the "Know your Zimbabwe, know your country" campaign. HAZ president Innocent Manyera, said this last Friday in an interview.

"We need Government to fund documentation of all potential attractions. As a country we are rich in attractions but some are not known," said Mr Manyera.

"As a country we also need connectivity by air transport. The Victoria Falls International Airport was a game-changer for the destination.

"Imagine if we have the same (type of airport) for Eastern Highlands, Masvingo and Kariba."

 Since the commissioning of the Victoria Falls International Airport in November 2016, there has been a surge in tourist arrivals, with an 18,5 percent increase in hotel occupancy being recorded in 2017 compared to 2016. An additional 35 730 rooms were sold across 10 hotels, which have a combined total of 1 125 rooms available per night.

The Victoria Falls International Airport, which was renovated to the tune of $150 million, now accommodates long-haul, wide-bodied aircraft.

Since the refurbishment and expansion of the airport, three new international airlines including Kenyan Airways and RwandAir, have started plying the route while existing airlines such as South Africa Airlink have increased capacity. This has so far created an additional 127 000 seats for flights into Victoria Falls per annum.

HAZ believes if the establishment and/ or refurbishment of other airports is replicated across the country, more tourists would visit, allowing the economy to generate more foreign currency.

Mr Manyera also wants Government to resuscitate the railway system to "reduce the amount of traffic on the road, which discourages domestic travellers who mainly travel by road". HAZ argues that if locals are familiar with tourist destinations in their country, they can become good ambassadors.

Government, through the Diaspora Infrastructure Development Group (DIDG), is working towards reviving the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ).

NRZ is already showing signs of recovery, moving 771 000 tonnes of freight in the first four months of last year, compared to 679 000 tonnes moved in the same period last year.

Passenger coaches are also becoming increasingly popular with travellers particularly on the Bulawayo-Victoria Falls route. Mr Manyera also called for measures to ensure order on urban roads where pirate taxis and commuter omnibuses have become a menace.

"We need the traffic mess in our cities to be attended to. There is no respect for citizens and for business. The experience one will face if he or she is an international visitor is not encouraging," he said.

Mr Manyera said this year, they "remain positive and very constructive on Government initiatives to address the macro economic ills".

"We do hope it's going to be another year of abundance in our sector," he said. Most tourism players had a great year last year, with the bulk paying a 13th cheque 10 months into the year. Mr Manyera said the sector wants cheap money for refurbishment and retooling of operations. Uptake of the $15 million tourism facility provided by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) last year remains low on concerns over the tenor and interest rate.
- the herald
Tags: HAZ,


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