Africa: World Bank’s IFC, Zimbabwe partner to expand air access, attract more airlines to Victoria Falls tourism hub

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In view of the challenges posed by pandemic on the tourism sector, the Zimbabwean Government and the World’s IFC, a member of the World Bank Group is partnering to expand air access and attract more airlines to Victoria Falls tourism hub.

According to thezimbabwemail.com, the partnership will support recovery and jobs in Zimbabwe’s tourism sector by helping increase air access to Victoria Falls, one of Africa’s premier tourist destinations.

IFC—a member of the World Bank Group—is the largest global development institution focused on the private sector in emerging markets.

READ: Africa: Zimbabwe hopes to revive international tourism at Victoria Falls with ongoing vaccination of residents

Under the partnership, IFC will help Zimbabwe and the private sector to attract more airlines and flights to Victoria Falls, increasing access for visitors from Africa and around the world as COVID-19 travel restrictions ease.

Victoria Falls, one of the world’s largest falls, is Zimbabwe’s main tourism hub and supports around 25,000 direct jobs. Travel restrictions imposed because of the COVID-19 pandemic collapsed global tourism and forced businesses in the Victoria Falls area to retrench thousands of employees.

The government’s prioritisation of vaccines for tourism workers at Victoria Falls is expected to put the destination in a privileged position for re-attracting airlines, tourists, and revenues.

“A strategic air service development effort is needed to drive recovery from the ongoing COVID-19 crisis and ensure longer-term growth for Victoria Falls as a regional hub,” said Engineer Theodius Chinyanga, Permanent Secretary at Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development.

READ: Africa: Zimbabwe set to reopen Victoria Falls for international Tourism

“The time is right to expand our network to ensure the destination can grow its position as a gateway to the country and the wider region. This is in line with our strategic thrust of developing Victoria Falls as a regional tourism hub,” said Tawanda Gusha, Acting CEO for the Airports Company of Zimbabwe.

“With the right support, Victoria Falls can become a truly competitive tourism entry point for the region. Establishing this position in the market will help drive tourism through Zimbabwe and support recovery and jobs,” said Adamou Labara, IFC’s Country Manager for Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe.

This project is part of a broader, multi-year tourism program between IFC and Zimbabwe called the Zimbabwe Destination Development Program (ZDDP), designed to revitalize and increase the competitiveness of the country’s tourism industry.

Launched in January 2020, the donor financed ZDDP is sponsored by Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development, IFC, and the Government of Japan.

Delivery of the air access support is being led by transport consultancy firm, CPCS Transcom Ltd., together with experts from Cape Town Air Access, a project of Wesgro, the Tourism, Trade and Investment Promotion Agency for South Africa’s Western Cape.

They will help the government conduct data analysis and facilitate dialogue with airlines to recover and strengthen Victoria Falls’ position as a tourism and air transport hub for Zimbabwe and the region.

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