US lifts travel warnings

airzim.jpgHARARE - The United States (US) has lifted crippling travel warnings slapped on Zimbabwe nine years ago, Harare tourism officials said last week.
Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) chief executive officer Karikoga Kaseke told reporters that travel warnings were officially lifted on April 8, 2009.


Kaseke said the decision to lift the warnings followed months of
discussions between the ZTA and US embassy officials in Harare who in
turn advised President Barrack Obama's administration to give the all
clear to Americans wishing to visit Zimbabwe.

It is the best thing that has happened to us, said Kaseke, who spoke
told reporters after a meeting at the ZTA offices with US consul in
Harare, James Jimenez.

The US mission did not immediately confirm lifting of travel warnings,
a move that would represent a small but positive shift in relations
between Washington and Harare.

In addition to regular travel warnings, the US and its Western allies
also cut direct support to the Zimbabwe government and imposed visa and
financial sanctions against President Robert Mugabe and his inner
circle as punishment for failure to uphold democracy, the rule of law
and human rights.

The sanctions against Mugabe and his top lieutenants remain in place and direct financial aid also stays blocked.

The US and the European Union have said they want a unity government
formed by Mugabe and long time opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai last
February to implement genuine and comprehensive political and economic
reforms before they can lift sanctions and provide direct support to
Harare.

But the lifting of travel warnings to Zimbabwe will assist the
country's once vibrant tourism sector rebound after years of decline
due to political violence and a humanitarian crisis that scared away
visitors.

The US and rich Western countries have been the traditional source
market for Zimbabwe's tourism sector even after Mugabe's government
began promoting a new Look East' policy in recent years following his
quarrel with America and Europe.

Zimbabwe's new government has placed tourism at the core of efforts to
turnaround the economy after years of political turmoil and economic
decline affected arrivals from Western countries.

However, the country faces major challenges in refurbishing airports,
roads, telecommunications, hotels and other related infrastructure, as
well as repairing the tainted image before arrivals can hit South
Africa's levels of 11 million.

ZimOnline

Post published in: News

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