22 June 2014

Zimbabwe: Airlines Meeting Begins in Victoria Falls

Over 350 delegates are expected to attend the 9th edition of the annual meetings of airlines, airports, aviation suppliers and tourism authorities which begins in Victoria Falls today.

The meeting, to be hosted by the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (Caaz) at the Elephant Hills Hotel, runs up to June 24.

Caaz general manager David Chawota said 48 airlines have so far confirmed participation alongside service providers.

"We have such delegates as equipment suppliers who supply aviation either from the aircraft point of view or from the service provider. So all those have been registering, including the business community, their support service, the financial and insurance sectors -- they will be there," said Chawota.

Africa's three leading carrier -- Kenya Airways, Ethiopian Airlines and African Airways -- will attend the meeting. Gulf carriers Emirates and Etihad Airways and global carriers such as British Airways, Iberia Airlines and Condor Airlines will also attend the meeting.

Zimbabwe will use the Routes Africa meeting to market the country as a conference and tourist destination.

Government wants to use Victoria Falls as a conference destination riding on the successful co-hosting of last year's United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) general assembly with Zambia.

Caaz would use the meeting to lure more airlines into the country thereby helping in making the destination accessible -- one of the pivots of destination marketing.

Last month, Chawota said Caaz wants to have 40 airlines flying into the country by 2018.

Currently 14 airlines are flying into Zimbabwe.

At the country's aviation peak in the period 1999-2003, 34 airlines were flying into Zimbabwe.

"We are saying if we could reach 34 [airlines], then we can make it high. What we need to have is the necessary conditions for us to be able to accommodate other planes," Chawota said.

"Capacity is there, it's about efficiency. If Victoria Falls becomes an entry point for long haul, already that will give us capacity as a destination," he said.

Last year's Routes Africa meeting in Uganda attracted 330 delegates.

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