More airlines pledge to land in Zimbabwe

...But obstacles still need clearing for tourism to boom

AT least two more national airlines will soon land at the Harare International Airport, says the Chairperson of the Zimbabwe Tourism Association (ZTA), Marah Hativagone.

Hativagone, who is also Chairperson of the Zimbabwe Investment Authority (ZIA), said: "Air Namibia is talking to us to re-engage with us again after many years of absence.

"The natioanl airline of Tanzania is also talking to us and we hope they will land here anytime soon. As you probable know Emirates Airlines is flying to Zimbabwe and this brings about three new players in the tourism industry."

She said, however, four new airlines would not be enough for Zimbabwe's tourism industry which is picking up.

Hativagone said the new five star hotel scheduled to be built near the National Sports Stadium project would continue despite the strong opposition from the Environmental Management Agency (EMA), who have come out strongly against the project.

Zimbabwe's tourism industry is improving judging by the latest figures from the ZTA.

The President of the Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe (HAZ), Tichaona Hwingwiri, said his association is pleased with the upward trend within travel and tourism in the past two years.

He said, however, Zimbabwe still had "much more ground to cover for it to enjoy the number of international tourist arrivals of the boom period of the 1990s".

"A great many factors still act as obstacles to a full and unimpeded progress towards tourism growth and development, among which is the domestic air service situation," Hwingwiri recently said in an exclusive interview.

"Domestic tourism has been slow particularly in areas such as the Eastern Highlands, Kariba, Great Zimbabwe and the Bulawayo area but continues to grow in destinations such as Harare and Victoria Falls.

"It is hoped that all obstacles to tourism growth can be identified and removed and HAZ remains keen to work with other partners such as the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA), the Zimbabwe Council for Tourism (ZCT) and others in this regard."

Zimbabwe's tourism industry used to very active before the controversial Land Resettlement Programme (LRP) began in 2000.

The programme resulted in some tourists being given warnings about traveling to the country by their nationals.

The Minister of the Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Engineer Walter Mzembi, has said he too is pleased with the industry's progress especially the fact that Zimbabwe is expected to host the World Tourism Fair in October this year.

Zimbabwe will share this prestigious event with neighbours, Zambia.

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