Kariba Tour Operators Slam Air Zimbabwe

By Criswell Chisango
KARIBA- Hardly a year after it resumed domestic flights the country’s
national airline Air Zimbabwe has come under fire from tourism
stakeholders here for poor communication, delayed and flight
cancelations negatively impacting on tourism sector under revival
following political, social and economical 2000 crises.
Tourism like agricultural, health, education and other sectors
suffered a knock when the Government embarked on controversial often violent land
reform in early 2000.
Air Zimbabwe resumed domestic flights to Kariba in August last year but is
suffering from inconsistencies affecting the clients.
Stakeholders who attended a meeting convened by the Civil Aviation
Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) blamed Air Zimbabwe for poor communication
affecting mainly international tourists who may want to visit the
resort town of Kariba that has one of the second largest man-made lakes
generating electricity.
‘’Some international clients cancelled their visits due to poor
communication by Air Zimbabwe after untimely cancellation of domestic
flights. International tourists lose confidence when a flight is
cancelled without proper explanation. We cannot explain better to them
but this is not good at all. It affects many people here as we all
depend on tourism and it is intertwined for the town’s development’’
said one tour operator speaking on condition that he is not named.
Some lodge owners, hotels officials, boat operators as well as those
in the food sector complained that the national airliner is failing its
mandate to assist domestic flights.
‘’It is unfortunate that international tourists’ plans of visits can
only be disturbed by a local airliner affecting many of us in the
downstream operations. We hope authorities may act as a matter of
urgency as we are happy to revive the tourism sector at all costs but
our airliner is failing us’’ added another tour guide operator.
Kariba Publicity Association chairman Nigel Ncube said the meeting was
a frank discussion and stakeholders are geared to improve on both
domestic and international tourists in the resort town.
‘’It is  a major concern for everyone that tourists must be afforded
the opportunity to be on time at their destinations and we hope
authorities will help us as we are gearing up to improve the tourism
sector. Few of the tourists would want a 5 hour road travel from
Harare  and we look forward to a positive input from Air Zimbabwe to
maintain our tourism arrivals’’ said Ncube.
Air Zimbabwe public relations officer Shingai Dhliwayo denied the
accusations saying the flights cancellations were demand induced and
few incidences were to do with unforeseen technical challenges.
‘’Whenever we have had such disruptions we have sought alternative
transportation to deliver on the promise to our passengers and this
has been in the form of replacement aircraft wherever possible.
However we are happy to promote the growth of this very important
destination on our Zimbabwean tourism itinerary’’ she said in written
response.
However, CAAZ local manager one Maramwidze said he was not at liberty
to comment on the issues discussed and there was no response at the
time of writing.
The surge in tourism arrivals in the country including the resort town
of Kariba boosts in employment creation on strategic town bordering
with Zambia.
Zimbabwe tourism arrival for 2014 grew by 2.6 percent to 1 880 028
from 1 832 583 according to Zimbabwe Tourism Authority report.