23 December 2012

Zimbabwe: Govt Hunts for UNWTO Official Carrier

GOVERNMENT is in talks with reputable airlines as it searches for an official carrier for the UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) general assembly meeting in Victoria Falls next year.

Zimbabwe is co-hosting the meeting with Zambia from August 24 to 29.

Tourism and Hospitality Industry minister, Walter Mzembi said last week negotiations with airlines were underway as there was a cost component that was associated with declaring one airline an official partner.

"We are negotiating with South African Airways, Kenyan Airways, Emirates and other international carriers that have written to us expressing their desire to be designated as an official carrier," Mzembi said.

The official carrier should have a wider network and fly to and from the 186-member countries of the UNWTO, a fact which has ruled out Air Zimbabwe.

Air Zimbabwe recently resumed flights after being grounded for over six months due to debts. Mzembi said the airline has a role to play in distributing tourists inside the country.

"We feel compromised by the inability of Air Zimbabwe to service tourism as efficiently as we would want," he said, adding that the industry had to support the airline due to its contribution to the sector.

Next year's UNWTO meeting is envisaged to put the country on the tourism map and operators are sprucing up to reap maximum benefits.

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