Columbus Mabika recently in VICTORIA FALLS

Businesses in the tourism and hospitality industry yesterday welcomed the resumption of domestic flights by Air Zimbabwe saying the development would boost trade, domestic and international tourism.

The flights, four times a week on the triangular route between Harare, Bulawayo and Victoria Falls started yesterday. They had been suspended since January last year for operational problems and then because of the clampdown on intercity movement under Covid-19 lockdown regulations.

Many airlines across the region are coming up with different strategies to tackle the pandemic-induced travel slump, which has led to government bailouts, collapses and huge job cuts. Association of Zimbabwe Travel Agents chairperson Mrs Mercy Mandevhani said availability of flights would encourage local residents to visit other parts of the country.

“To keep people in their jobs, boosting our trade and tourism, we have got to put planes in the air, and we have got to put tourists on the ground. This recommencement of domestic flights is a step in the right direction towards boosting tourism which has for the last one year plus, been negatively affected by the pandemic,” she told reporters in Victoria Falls. “What we are looking for is an assurance that at a point in time, as the vaccine roll out is gathering momentum, further travel restrictions and border closures will be ruled out, hence the need for airlines to be operational.”

Wenhau Safaris Advisory Group founder Mr Wengai Nhau said the resumption of domestic flights signals the growing confidence in the country’s tourism products and preparedness against Covid-19.