Aviation summit set for Vic- Falls

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PREPARATIONS for the Routes Africa Summit to be held in the resort town of Victoria Falls in June are on course, The Patriot can reveal.
The summit is meant to discuss, among others, issues affecting the growth and development of the aviation sector.
It is scheduled for June 22 to 24 2014 and will see aviation and tourism players from over 200 countries converging for the 9th meeting.
The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development, Munesushe Munodawafa confirmed that the summit will be held in Victoria Falls.
He said, Zimbabwe won the bid to host the Routes Africa Summit during the 8th summit held in Kampala, Uganda, last year.
Analysts contend that hosting the Routes Africa Summit is expected to boost efforts to endorse brand Zimbabwe as a safe destination as happened during the co-hosting of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation-UNWTO General Assembly last year.
The event is also expected to accelerate the recovery of the national flag carrier Air Zimbabwe which had cut its flights due to a myriad of challenges.
Air Zimbabwe has resumed some regional flights it had suspended and is expected to resume international flights to London.
The Routes Africa Summit discusses current aviation trends and best practices as well as coming up with strategies to ensure that Africa is not left behind.
It also serves to show how airlines are critical in driving economic growth through ensuring connectivity.
Such meetings as the Routes Africa Summit have shown how attitudes towards aviation are beginning to change in Africa.
They also show that if airlines, airports, tourism authorities and other stakeholders join hands to lobby governments aviation will become one of the drivers of enhanced connectivity on the continent, generating economic growth.
Aviation and tourism play an important role in economies across Africa and this is going to grow in future if governments wake up to the potential of these sectors.
Statistics show that for every three tourists that visit Africa, at least one job is created across the continent.
Governments are thus being urged to invest more in aviation to ensure accessibility and development of economies of the continent.
The annual tourism growth across the world is four percent, but there were around 1,3 million tourist arrivals in Africa in 2012, up 21,6 percent on the previous year.
The aviation industry is crucial in the development of the tourism industry as it affords local, regional and international visitors access to tourist facilities.
And with a vibrant aviation industry, the number is expected to increase.
Landlocked countries such as Zimbabwe chiefly rely on aviation to support its development.
It is however not just about getting visitors into the country, but moving them around when they arrive.
It is therefore necessary to enhance domestic access for the country to be able to show its assets to visitors.
Infrastructure is obviously one of the factors airlines consider when they are making plans for network growth, but it is not necessarily all about airport infrastructure as poor ground infrastructure can impact arrival levels due to the poor customer experience.
Airline experts also record that African countries need to increase safety and security standards to attract more airline partners.
The domestic use of airplanes is also being championed to accelerate the growth of economies.
For example, most people involved in cross-border trading do not use air travel but rely on road which takes more days.
Experts opine that before there is a wider adoption of air travel, stakeholders must improve aviation infrastructure.
One of the factors airlines consider before making investments is infrastructure and Africa continues to lag behind as some airports, for instance, cannot accommodate the latest models of aircraft.
The pundits contend that other issues that must be addressed to attract partners are safety and security.
Countries such as Uganda are currently developing an aviation master-plan to prepare for demand growth.
This will include significant investments in infrastructure at Entebbe and upgrades at all domestic airports across Uganda.
The 8th Routes Africa Summit held last year discussed, among other issues, Public, Private Partnerships for Airport Management and Development.
It also discussed enhanced airline connectivity which provides stimulus for tourism in Africa.
Zimbabwe, for example, currently has more than seven airlines among them the Royal Dutch Airline KLM, Ethiopian Airlines and Air Namibia landing at the Harare International Airport.
The Transport Ministry has signed eight bilateral air services agreements.
This year’s Routes Africa Summit is expected to commence with a strategy session which gives an insight into aviation across the region where leading industry experts will discuss key air service development issues across the continent.
Other issues to be tackled will range from route expansion, route development and future planning.

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