from ESTER SHAVI in Kariba, Zimbabwe
KARIBA, (CAJ News) – THE government of Zimbabwe has pledged to advocate for more airlines to ply the Kariba route, with the coming in of more operators anticipated to boost the tourism industry.
Felix Mhona, the Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development, gave the pledge at the recent launch of flights to Karipa Airport by Fastjet Zimbabwe.
Meanwhile, plans are also underway for the government to relocate the airport to a new site at Charara, as part of plans by the government to refurbish aviation infrastructure.
“The aviation industry has arguably been the backbone in the development and growth of the local and global tourism and hospitality industry,” Mhona said.
Rabiro Mangena, tourism and hospitality industry business leader at BDO Zimbabwe, said the country, already boasting of three international airports, is set to benefit immensely from the domestic airport refurbishments, rehabilitation and modernisation programme.
“This will ensure that other tourist attractions in other parts of the country destination Kariba inclusive are easily accessible,” Mangena said.
Until the recent refocus of the government, the country’s aviation industry was on the down spiral.
Except for the three main international airports, Robert Mugabe, Victoria Falls and Joshua Nkomo, the domestic airports were not receiving much infrastructure development attention.
The deteriorating state of the airports led to the reduction in number of international airlines serving the Zimbabwe destination.
According to the report by the African Development Bank (AfDB), more than 20 scheduled airlines discontinued services in Zimbabwe.
These include major carriers such as Air France, LLM, Lufthansa, Swiss Air and British Airways between 1997 and 2007.
International tourists were static at an average of 260 000 between 2006 and 2015, with 2011 being an outlier where international tourists shot to 381 261.
Last week, President Emmerson Mnangagwa revealed tourist arrivals for 2022 increased by 174 percent from the previous year.
Kariba Airport provides access to Kariba Dam which ranks as the largest manmade lake in the world.
The lake, north of Zimbabwe, to the border with Zambia, is known for its unique sunsets, scenery, fishing and other water sports as well as game viewing.
– CAJ News