National airline Air Zimbabwe is working on acquiring smaller aircraft to service local routes as part of efforts to enhance connectivity within the country and boost domestic tourism.
At an online tourism stakeholder engagement hosted by the Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe (HAZ), the national airline acknowledged the air connectivity gap in the country despite having several other airports outside the three major international airports in Harare, Bulawayo and Victoria Falls.
The airline’s head of marketing, Tafadzwa Zaza, said the country has smaller airports but the airline does not have smaller planes to service those airports.
He added there is urgent need to complement each other within the tourism and hospitality sector in order to boost the domestic market, which has now been identified as the launchpad for sector growth and recovery after setbacks caused by the Covid- 19 pandemic.
This comes as international and regional travel restrictions were imposed to limit the spread of the pandemic.
“As a national airline, we do not expect to make profit right away but we believe we should work with every other player in the travel and tourism sector.
“We have plans to acquire smaller aircraft so that we can service those smaller airports that we cannot reach right now,” he said.
Mr Zaza also highlighted the need for inter-ministerial engagement in the efforts to resuscitate the industry.
This, he said, would bring together a combined effort by all ministries that have a direct effect on the smooth flow of the tourism and hospitality sector.
“As AirZim, we are under the Ministry of Transport. Other players are under Ministry of Tourism. All these businesses require fuel which brings in the Ministry of Energy.
“If these ministries work together then we can easily handle fuel challenges that may affect transporters in the sector,” said Mr Zaza.
According to the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority, the majority of Zimbabwe’s hotel accommodation is taken up by domestic travellers, with the exception of Victoria Falls, which is dominated by foreign tourists.
ZTA also notes there is potential for domestic tourism in the country, but growth is slowed down by low disposable incomes, poor connectivity, lack of packages and a general lack of information on the available tourism products and services.