The government says it has ratified seven bilateral air services agreements in a development which will see more tourist arrivals and an improvement on the sector's gross domestic product (GDP) contribution. The Minister of Tourism and Hospitality, Walter Mzembi revealed that cabinet approved the ratification of seven bilateral air service agreements, adding that the move is expected to boost the sector's revenue and its contribution to the GDP.
Mzembi, who was addressing senior army officers at the Zimbabwe Staff College, said his ministry has adopted several strategies which will be used to achieve the targets which were set by the government. "We are expected to contribute at least $3 billion to the GDP by 2018 from the current $851 million," he said. Mzembi said some of the strategies to improve the tourism sector's GDP contribution include the liberalisation of visas and the internal distribution of tourists. Currently, the tourism sector contributes 10 percent to the GDP.
Meanwhile, airline passengers have increased by 24 percent with the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) saying the figures recorded last year confirm that the country's connectivity has improved. A total of 594 000 arrivals came through local airports in 2013 up from 481 000 in 2012. Harare International Airport accounted for the bulk of the arrivals. CAAZ attributed the increase to improved connectivity brought about by new airlines in the skies. The hosting of major conferences such as the UNWTO General Assembly, as well as Air Zimbabwe's resumption of normal services were also cited as other factors that contributed to the increase in arrivals.
Local travel and tourism executive, Zodwa Mkandla said the government should be commended for its extensive marketing efforts of the country, highlighting that this augurs well for the tourism industry. "This means the airlines are making money, the travel agents are making money and I am sure CAAZ is smiling all the way to the bank," she said. Data from CAAZ shows that Harare International Airport recorded 435 000 arrivals, 90 percent of which were international arrivals while Victoria Falls and Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo airports recorded 107 000 and 45 100 passengers respectively.
Air travel has been on the increase in the country since Zimbabwe embraced some of the key principles of the open skies policy. Some of the airlines that resumed flights into the country include Emirates, British Airways, Mozambique's lAM Airlines, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and Egypt Air.