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Low domestic tourism volumes worry Zimbabwe Parly

by Staff reporter
17 Sep 2019 at 07:32hrs | Views
INCREASED marketing and educational campaigns are needed to boost domestic tourism in Zimbabwe, which remains lowest despite huge potential, the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Transport and Infrastructural Development, has said.

Speaking after a tour of the Victoria Falls airport recently, committee chairperson, Mr Oscar Gorerino, expressed shock over "low numbers" of locals flying through Victoria Falls International Airport.  As the country's prime resort, he said Victoria Falls should reflect good prospects for the country's domestic tourism.

Mr Gorerino was reacting to a report presented by Victoria Falls  International Airport manager, Mr Ronnie Masawi, who revealed that only about 200 000 locals flew into Victoria Falls between 2015 and July this year.

While attributing the low number of people using air transport partly to steep cost of air travel, the committee chair said there was a need for increased awareness through Parliament and relevant agencies including airline operators, private sector and ordinary citizens.

"What we discovered is that the low numbers are mainly because of economic hardship and prices as fares are very high hence people prefer using buses. But for someone to drive from Harare to Victoria Falls is tiresome while using the plane is faster," he said. "The cost of living is affecting domestic tourism. So, as Parliament we have to do an awareness to make sure businesses try to adjust their fees to what is affordable but at the same time ensuring business survives."

An air ticket between Harare and Victoria Falls costs Z$1 000 on average. Mr Gorerino said operators may be missing out on attracting numbers by a small difference in terms of fares hence if engaged they may reduce to the level affordable to locals.  

In his presentation earlier, Mr Masawi said 34 855 domestic tourists flew into Victoria Falls in 2015 with the number increasing to 42 372 after the commissioning of the new look airport in 2016. The number fell to 40 684 in 2017 and rose again to 50 827 last year.

About 38 696 used the facility between January and July this year, giving a total of 208 434 over the five year period on an average of between 5 000 and 6 000 per month.  

Air Zimbabwe and Fastjet operate domestic routes between Harare, Bulawayo and Victoria Falls. Private commercial airlines such as Wilderness Air, Central Air Transport Services (CATS), Great Plains, Zambezi Helicopter Company, popularly known as Helipad, Bonisair, Chikopokopo and other private chartered flights also operate mainly around the country's resorts. Meanwhile, Mr Gorerino said the visit by the Portfolio committee was meant to take stock of aviation infrastructure countrywide.  

"We thought as a committee we should go and see whether these airports are prepared for business and what Government can do to make sure they are ready," he said.

Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) acting director general, Mrs Margaret Mantiziba, said the aviation authority will continue to market the destination with the help of other players as the country seeks to lure more airlines.

Source - chronicle