Kariba comes alive,

KARIBA - The resort town of Kariba reverberated with life on Friday following the resumption of the Harare-Kariba-Victoria Falls route by national airline Air Zimbabwe, 10 years after the last flight.

Tourism stakeholders in the country hailed the resumption of the domestic route by Air Zimbabwe, which will be flying three times per week to Kariba, saying the development will boost tourism in the resort town.

The tourism sector in Kariba, which has the country’s largest man-made lake, was suffering from the withdrawal of Air Zimbabwe and other airlines caused by an unprecedented economic crisis that started over a decade ago.

A snap survey conducted by the Daily News on Sunday showed that hotels and safari lodges in the resort town, including Lake View Inn, Cutty Sark and Kariba Breezes, went out of business because of poor tourist traffic and limited demand.

The luxury cruising sector has also been paralysed with most boats spending most of the time docking in the waters.

Air Zimbabwe acting chief executive Edmund Makona said the return of Air Zimbabwe into the resort town “will champion the rebirth of Kariba”.

“Airlines are at the core of economic development and I believe that Kariba can only be turned around with a vibrant airline,” he said adding the company was committed to be a catalyst of socio-economic development in the country.

The deputy minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development, Petronella Kagonye said government will ensure that Air Zimbabwe stays afloat so that it feeds in the country’s tourism industry and helps unlock business opportunities in line with the country’s socio-economic blueprint.

She noted that new route established by Air Zimbabwe will not only rekindle the fishing business in Kariba but other downstream industries as well.

“We will continue with the development of new routes and acquiring new planes so that the turnaround of Air Zimbabwe remains on a strong pedestal,” she said.

Kagonye indicated that plans are underway for Air Zimbabwe to also resume flights to other regional tourism destinations such as Hwange and Buffalo Range.

Walter Kanhanga, the deputy minister of Tourism and Hospitality Industry said the resumption of the flight comes at a critical time when government is planning an all stakeholders for the revival of tourism in Kariba, urging travel and tour operators to exploit the flight.

Tourism industry in Zimbabwe took a knock at the turn of the millennium following violent land invasions in 2000, as international media spotlight centred on the violence and economic decline in Zimbabwe, which further dented arrivals.

Recently, the industry has been recovering contributing over $1 billion to the fiscus in 2013 according to Zimbabwe Tourism Authority statistics, but Kariba has remained in the doldrums.

“We want to see Kariba getting back to its 1999 status and this re-launch of the route will mark the beginning of a sustainable return by
Zimbabwe to the aviation map,” he said.

Mashonaland West resident minister Faber Chidarikire said the coming back of Air Zimbabwe in Kariba will signal an increase in the number of tourists and visitors into the province.

“We now hope to see houseboats and lodges getting full bookings,” he said.

James Gumpo, a tourism operator in the resort town said tourists must visit the area because Lake Kariba offers a combination of fishing, cruising, game drives, holidaying in spacious hotels and a warm climate.

“I am happy to note that government has responded to our plea of connecting us with other routes. The onus is now on us as the hospitality industry to support Air Zimbabwe and make sure that the route becomes viable,” he said.

Comments (1)

Seeing the picture of the airport now, it's a long way from the days when we flew in and out on old Dak's and single seaters, ( 60's) lovely to see such progress

Liz Hill - 22 December 2014

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