Co-operation crucial to tourism growth

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Air Namibia will mid-year, June, launch the Accra-Lagos route in a move to connect West Africa to the entire southern African region.
The airline, which flies to more than 36 destinations worldwide, provides convenient connections to over 17 European countries through Frankfurt and connects to North America via New York. It also flies regionally to six destinations.
Air Namibia is among the numerous airlines plying the Harare-Victoria Falls routes.
The airliner is keen to do business in the country.
Speaking to The Patriot, Air Namibia’s country manager Forbes Zaranyika said several factors will determine its operations in the country.
“Starting this June, we will be launching the Accra-Lagos route connecting with the entire southern African region,” said Zaranyika.
“The launch of this route means we will be offering the quickest, efficient and less expensive option than what is currently available. This is a competitive and generous package.
“We will feed passengers into Windhoek from different destinations and then they will be moved to Accra-Lagos.
“We will also be increasing our flights into Harare to six, from the current four, and to Victoria Falls with the same number as well.
“This is because the flights are spilling at the moment and the market has been requesting for additional capacity.
“We will first increase the frequency and if demand continues, we will introduce bigger aircraft.”
Zaranyika said the new political dispensation has been a boon to the airline industry.
With the mantra ‘Zimbabwe is open for business’, the world has literally been flocking into the country which for more than a decade had become a pariah state.
But the new administration, led by President Emmerson Mnangagwa, has charmed the world and renewed investors’ confidence.
And with massive mineral resources and business potential in various industries, the country has become the place to be for serious business people.
“We have had increased traffic from people looking for new business opportunities,” said Zaranyika.
He, however, pointed out that the continued cash crisis was hampering business.
“Passengers continue to face problems with the cash crisis making it difficult for them to purchase air tickets and banking limitations are impacting negatively on our online bookings,” he said.
The country’s tourism industry has been described as a low hanging fruit with potential to accelerate the economic recovery programme.
Early this year, the central bank called on the industry to contribute 20 percent to the GDP in the mid-term and try to earn 10 percent of GDP by year-end.
“I want to challenge the sector to grow to around 20 percent in the medium-term. Right now you are contributing 11 percent to the GDP,” said the central bank boss Dr John Mangudya.
“As you work towards your 100-day plan, I think you need smart objectives and strategies. I challenge you to contribute about 10 percent foreign currency receipts by year end.
“Currently you are contributing five percent, so I want you to double that.The economy earned US$5,5 billion this year so you need to earn around 500 million.”
The sector reportedly slumped by US$26 million to US$151 million in foreign exchange receipts in 2017, from US$177 million earned in 2016.
However, factors like poor air connectivity were cited as hampering the growth of tourism.
The tourism sector targets to increase tourist arrivals to seven million by 2025, from 2,2 million in 2016, and efforts are being made to increase the number of airlines flying into the country.
Stakeholders in the industry are also working towards increasing the length of stay from five days and four nights to nine days and eight nights as the longer the tourists stay, the more money they spend.
Plans are afoot to grow the overseas market share from 14 percent in 2016 to 40 percent by 2025 and increase the tourism receipts to 6 billion by 2025.
This means the tourism employment will also increase from the current 180 000 recorded in 2016 to 350 000 direct employment by 2025.
Zimbabwe currently ranks 114 out of 134 countries in terms of high cost of doing business while on the business environment pillar, the country ranks 134 and 127 on the labour market pillar.

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