I read recently a comment by a speaker at the recently held Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe ( H.A.Z. ) conference in Vic Falls, complimenting Air Zimbabwe on its recent success. I would agree with the H.A.Z. that Air Zimbabwe has improved its service over the last 12 months, however it is important to remember that this improvement is following a virtual total collapse of the airline.
Zimbabwe’s tourism industry is on the rise and this is evident in the amount of positive press that is being written about the country in tourism networks. This rise is gradual and is due to the efforts of operators in the industry to both reinvest in their operations under difficult circumstances, as well as these operators’ efforts to market the country.
Some credit should also be given to our Minister, and to his team, for holding a successful United Nations World Tourism Organisation congress held in Victoria Falls in August ( UNWTO ) This certainly did help to create a better perception of Zimbabwe, but we should be reticent when we measure the momentum this single event will give a country that has little internal flight infrastructure.
If we compare Zimbabwe’s tourism infrastructure to the same in Zambia we can immediately see what the barrier is to any marked increase in tourism to the larger tourism industry in our country. Zambia has a reasonably priced, privately owned airline that operates a professional, regular and reliable scheduled air service to ALL of the main tourist attractions around the country.
So we ask, should we be commending Air Zimbabwe for simply reintroducing a regular flight from Harare to Victoria Falls. It is my opinion that we should hold our breath and use it to congratulate Air Zimbabwe and the Ministry of Transport when we have a regular and reasonably priced scheduled service, offered by a private aircraft operator that links Harare and Victoria Falls to Kariba, Hwange, Mana Pools, Mutare and Buffalo Range.
Zimbabwe has a wide array of tourism product to offer the global market – much of this sits idle. Without internal air access at a reasonable price and offered by way of a schedule we will not see any substantial recovery of our Tourism Industry.
Editor – Vic Falls 24
3 December 2013