AVIADEV chief executive officer and founder, Mr Jon Howell, says Zimbabwe is uniquely positioned as an aviation opportunity connecting with some of the big airlines on the continent.
Speaking on the sidelines of WTM in London this week, Mr Howell said Zimbabwe was poised to become one stop to the rest of the world in the future.
“Zimbabwe, you’re uniquely positioned as an aviation opportunity. I think it’s fantastic that it’s now connecting very well within Africa so we see Kenya Airways, Ethiopian and South African carriers as well,” he said.
“All that means is you’re one stop to the world, you’re connected to London you’re connected to New York you’re connected to China you’re connected to the whole world. I understand it’s not the ideal we want at this point. I think it starts with developing intra-Africa.
“We’re at World Travel Market, it’s a tourism fair and it would be ideal to set up opportunities. We can set holidays, for example, you can go to Rwanda and you can see gorillas there aren’t gorillas in Zimbabwe but there is everything else. You can have an amazing safari, if you’re into flora and fauna. You can also go to Cape Town, do wine tasting at the Table Mountain and again go to Zimbabwe, see Victoria Falls go for a safari drive, have a completely different experience.”
Mr Howell said for Zimbabwe to attract more big airlines it should start with intra-Africa connectivity.
“So, what I think the future of Zimbabwe is, we should focus on intra-Africa connectivity. Let’s build the ladder up and when that critical mass is reached, at that point we can start looking at attracting some of the big, big carriers from around the world to start direct service.
However, I am very optimistic about the future,” he said.
Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) acting chief executive, Mr Givemore Chidzidzi, who is part of the country’s tourism delegation in London, expressed optimism on the growth of sustainable tourism in Zimbabwe.
“We looked at how the aviation sector is making strides in terms of supporting tourism. The issue of sustainability is, however, coming into question. The carbon footprint for using the airlines is being questioned, whether it is really necessary for people to be flying like we’re doing at the moment,” he said.
“Zimbabwe as a long-haul destination from major markets cannot do without the aviation sector and we were looking at what factors to stimulate air travel.
“The director general for IATA, Alexandre de Juniac, said that airlines are ready to support but they needed cushion systems if they were to reduce carbon emissions.”
Mr Chidzidzi noted that delays when airlines have to circulate around the airports because of poor navigation infrastructure need to be dealt with.
“So, for Zimbabwe we are poised for a big boost. The work the Government is doing of refurbishing our airports is quite a big plus on our development drive. We have completed the Victoria Falls
International Airport and right now work is underway on the refurbishment of the Harare International Airport now known as Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport. I believe we’re on the right track. These are the conditions that IATA and it’s huge membership are saying they are more than willing to support if the infrastructure is good,” he said.