CONFIDENCE in the recovery of Zimbabwe’s tourism industry has been boosted by the launch of several new flights into the country, along with government’s move to scrap Covid-19 pandemic induced restrictions, industry experts said this week.
They said these factors would give traction to the sector’s recovery efforts.
The past two years have been difficult for Zimbabwe’s tourism industry following the outbreak of Covid-19, which forced governments to impose travel restrictions and curfews.
The restrictions came during a period when access to Zimbabwean destinations was limited due to a number of long haul flights, including British Airways, which pulled out over the past two decades.
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This comes after Qatar Airways also made its maiden direct flight into Zimbabwe last year, opening fresh avenues into the Middle East.
Emirates also operates flights from that region into Harare.
“The coming in of the first European long haul airline into Victoria Falls marks a milestone in the tireless efforts to bring the destination to the world,” Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe president Farai Chimba told businessdigest.
As operators we welcomed the removal of the testing requirements. It made us competitive again in the region after lagging behind.
“We commend the Airports Company of Zimbabwe and Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe who have been instrumental in the process, along with key stakeholders, government and private sector over the last four years in clinching this.
“Access plays a major role in the tourism and hospitality sector as witnessed during the pandemic. What is encouraging is that new routes are being opened.
“Frankfurt is strategically located for Europe. We anticipate that direct flights from that destination will open up access from other European countries to connect using Eurowings, making it more convenient and economically competitive to travel to Zimbabwe,” he said.
Germany has a travel culture with high spenders hence direct access would boost tourism receipts.
German tourists have been excited by Southern African governments’ removal of pandemic restrictions, and have been warming up to the region’s destinations.
This followed their government’s removal of South Africa, the region’s hub for international arrivals, from its ‘high risk’ list.
As a result Germans, along with other international tourists, have been travelling freely without the need for quarantine on their return. But apart from Eurowings, Fastjet also launched the Victoria Falls — Kruger flights, with a new route into Maun in Botswana coming up in June.
Chimba said the scrapping of PCR tests requirements for visitors would also give relief to the sector.
“As operators we welcomed the removal of the testing requirements. It made us competitive again in the region after lagging behind. There is still a need for continued drive towards vaccination and reaching herd immunity,” Chimba said.
He said a major carnival set for Victoria Falls this month would improve recovery prospects.
“Events such as the Victoria Falls carnival, Victoria Falls Marathon, the recently-ended Nyanga Triathlon have downstream benefits for host areas, bringing visibility and revenues,” Chimba said.
“We have witnessed over the years the benefits with events such as the Jehovas Witness Conference in Harare how they change the trading landscape.”