Farai Shawn Matiashe
Vice-President General (Rtd) Dr Constantino Chiwenga has revealed government plans to enhance tourism by improving connectivity between destinations by engaging the private sector in setting up air access infrastructure across the country.
Addressing a Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) stakeholder consultative workshop for the National Tourism Sector Strategy held at Harare International Conference Center, in Harare recently, VP Chiwenga said making the country’s attractions more accessible was key in improving tourist inflows.
“To boost tourist arrivals, it is critical for the government and private sector to collaborate in developing air access infrastructure to tourist attractions in our beautiful country such as the Eastern Highlands, the Great Zimbabwe, the Lowveld and Mapungubwe,’’ said VP Chiwenga.
He said government was expecting to facilitate the construction a number of new airports.
“There is already a framework put in place to develop new airports in Mutare and Beitbridge as well as the refurbishing of Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport, Kariba and Buffalo Range Airports,” VP Chiwenga said.
The Vice-President said government was also revamping the national carrier to effectively move tourists around.
“Government has tasked the Minister of Transport and Infrastructure Development within the 100 days from 1 January 2018, to urgently revamp Air Zimbabwe to ensure it plays its key role as a National Flag Carrier in facilitating the movement of tourists both internationally and domestically,” he said.
VP Chiwenga said to complement the national carrier and increase connectivity to the rest of the world, the government was also opening its skies to other airlines urging the tourism and aviation sectors to join hands in attracting new airlines into the country through joint marketing efforts.
He said the tourism sector strategy should make entry and exit of tourists smooth and should facilitate easy access to tourism centers.
Under Former President Robert Mugabe regime, Zimbabwe was increasingly being considered hostile to tourists with critical institutions like the Zimbabwe Republic Police even being accused of targeting foreigners for extortion.
VP Chiwenga said there is need for the country to significantly invest in human skills development of the citizens so that they retain the traditional warmth and hospitality which Zimbabweans are renowned the world over.
He also said there was need to improve road signage especially in resort towns.
“I urge this gathering to immediately come up with a National Road Signage Programme, of course, working together with relevant authorities to ensure that there is seamless travel on roads leading to tourist resorts in the country,” he said.