Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe’s foremost tourist destination, is to host the largest route development event in Africa, the 9th Routes Africa, from Sunday to Tuesday.
The event, which will be attended by about 350 delegates representing 40 airlines, 50 airports and 15 tourism authorities, comes days after Zimbabwe was bestowed with the World Best Tourism Destination and the Favourite Cultural Destination for 2014 by the European Council on Tourism and Trade.
Tourism Minister Walter Mzembi said the event was significant and timely because connectivity was one of the biggest problems in Africa.
“From the theatre of travel, Tourism is about movement of people, and herein lies the critical importance of conferences such as Routes Africa 2014 taking place in this historical town of Victoria Falls, one of the Seven Wonders of the World…… It is abundantly clear that Africa needs to gain mileage in the sphere of physical travel as well as administratively facilitating travel. Air connectivity is the umbilical cord that links tourism destinations and its source markets,” he said.
“As we look at Travel Tourism with new eyes, let us, at the regional and continental levels, stay connected, focused on cooperation, value addition and super service in order for our beloved continent Africa, to grow its share of the global tourism market. It is not a coincidence that Routes Africa 2014 is focusing on air connectivity issues as one of the strategic ‘gates’ in boosting tourism.”
The Chief Executive of the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority, Karikoga Kaseke, expressed the same sentiments.
“We are extremely happy that this strategic conference has come to Zimbabwe, at a time when the issue of the accessibility of regional destinations is topical. As we continue to host more conferences in Zimbabwe, this one is unique in that it focuses on airline routes development in Africa and we hope it will help address the access challenges that usually affect all destinations on our continent,” Kaseke said.
“Tourism development in Africa will only move forward when we foster regional packages. It is my sincere hope that all Tourism Boards present at this conference will see the importance of partnerships with the aviation industry and beyond.”
Katie Bland, from the organisers UBM Live said: “Africa is one of the most dynamic and exciting aviation markets in the world right now. The continent might well become the most important geographic part of the world over the next 100 years, which is why African airlines are getting stronger and stronger, and carriers from all over the world are increasingly tapping the African market. The decisions taken at Routes Africa will be decisive in shaping the future of aviation in Africa for years to come.”