Tourism: Zimbabwe’s tour operators, hoteliers, etc. eager for reopening of South Africa aviation

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Zimbabwe’s local tourism players are pinning their hopes on the resumption of international flights, especially into neighbouring South Africa, for the return of far-field tourists.

According to a report on chronicle.co.zw, a number of leading international airlines have scheduled to resume flights starting at the end of this month until May especially into South Africa after the country recently relaxed lockdown to level 1.

South Africa is a default market leader in the tourism industry in Southern Africa as the country has direct links to a majority of source markets around the world from where Zimbabwe gets most of its arrivals.

Some international tourists connect to Zimbabwe and other destinations from making the neighbouring country key to the local industry.

South Africa alone contributed more than 500,000 arrivals to Zimbabwe in 2019. Between 2015 and 2019, Africa contributed a combined more than a million arrivals with the rest of the world contributing an average half a million and a majority of them came via South Africa.

BA Comair and Emirates have announced they will resume flights into Victoria Falls and Harare while in South Africa several airlines have scheduled flights as they make a return to the market after lockdown.

Lufthansa of Germany will be resuming flights into Cape Town end of this month and will be flying three times a week, while frequency between Johannesburg and Zurich will also be increased.

Lufthansa is also eyeing Zimbabwe and has been engaged in talks with the Government over the years with the aim of flying into Victoria Falls. Aviation and travel expert Mr. Andre Schulz who is Lufthansa general manager Southern Africa and East Africa, said 2021 is a year of transformation for the hospitality and travel industry in the wake of COVID-19.

He said the industry was hopeful that easing of travel restrictions will lead to high volumes of arrivals and bookings.

“With the European summer flight schedules being implemented at the end of March, there is a lot for our industry to look forward to. New opportunities not only in business but also in our private lives, bring about a sense of optimism knowing that we are finally starting to see the light at the end of what has been an immensely challenging period, which we have endured together.

“The pandemic has accustomed the tourism sector to reinvent itself and find innovative solutions to weather the storm. The year 2021 should be a year of modernisation and re-dimensioning for us with a clear focus on our purpose to connect people, culture and economies in a sustainable way,” said Mr Schulz in a statement to the tourism and travel industry stakeholders.

Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe (HAZ) national vice president, Mr Farai Chimba, hopes are high for the local industry.

“Several airlines have indicated resumption dates after the lockdown and this, together with travel out of Europe is good news for us. It will feed off the long overhaul flights into South Africa from where some clients connect to our various destinations,” he said.

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