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Govt courts foreign airlines

The move to lure new players into Zimbabwe is part of a two-pronged approach to make the country an accessible destination.

There are also attempts to lure airlines that used to fly into the country but left citing the route as unviable.

Reputable airlines such as British Airways, Swiss Air, Lufthansa, KLM, Emirates and Air France among others, stopped flying into the country over the past 10 years saying it had become unviable.

“We are still engaging those (airlines) that used to fly to Zimbabwe. We are talking with new airlines such as Qatar and Singapore,” Chawota said.

“Maintenance of dialogue is good enough. This is what has been happening with Emirates, we have been courting them for a long time.”

Emirates recently announced that it would fly into Zimbabwe starting February next year. The airline is exhibiting at this year’s travel and tourism fair, Sanganai/Hlanganani which ends on Tuesday.

Qatar Airways flies to over 100 destinations worldwide. It was voted the airline of the year for 2011 in the Skytrax industry audit. Qatar Airways and Emirates will compete to bring tourists from the Middle East into the country whereas Singapore would bring traffic from Asia.

British Airways, KLM and Air France among others will connect Europe to Zimbabwe.

Tourism players say the more the airline fly into the country, the easier it becomes in marketing Zimbabwe as a tourism destination.

Zimbabwe has become an expensive place to visit because there are no direct flights from Europe, Middle East and Asia into the country.

This means that passengers have to connect via South Africa and in most cases becomes an extra cost to the passenger.

In tourism terms if the country is inaccessible, it becomes difficult to market that destination.
Accessibility is one of the 4As of destination marketing. The others are attraction, accommodation and advertising.

The tourism industry is optimistic that the return of Emirates will spur other airlines to fly into the country.
“It is a big boost and we hope this will inspire other airlines like BA (British Airways) to fly to Harare,” said Karikoga Kaseke, Zimbabwe Tourism Authority CEO.

Kaseke said when more airlines fly into a destination it creates competition which is healthy for tourism.
“Once there is choice, passengers can travel more because fares will come down,” Kaseke said.

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