THE ninth edition of the Routes Africa Forum, an annual meeting of airlines, airports, aviation suppliers and aviation authorities, opened in Victoria Falls yesterday with Vice President Joice Mujuru urging the aviation industry to participate in the revival of Zimbabwe’s economy.
Mujuru said the government was determined to accelerate national economic growth and wealth creation through Zimbabwe agenda for Sustainable Socio-economic Transformation (ZimAsset).
“ZimAsset is Zimbabwe’s commitment to improve the ease of doing business in the country,” she said.
“We are determined and confident that we will succeed. I take this opportunity to invite players in the aviation industry to be part of this success story by making an economic decision of flying to Zimbabwe as soon as possible.
“We are now operating on a basket of multi-currencies with the United States dollar as the most commonly used currency, so there is no exchange rate at all.”
Mujuru said the hosting of the meeting in Victoria Falls would give tourism players a chance to see that the country was a safe tourist destination.
“Hosting of Routes Africa was to accord you, decision-makers in the civil aviation and tourism sectors, an opportunity to experience our country products,” she added.
“In this regard, I urge you to move around this unique tourism resort and make your judgments based on facts.
“The tourism industry has tremendous potential to contribute to economic growth in Zimbabwe, and indeed in fellow African states.
“The sector, however, faces some challenges, notably the perceived country risk and poor connectivity.
“It is noted that between 1999 and 2003, negative international publicity and macroeconomic challenges saw Zimbabwe experience a dramatic traffic decline of 50%.
“As a result most foreign airlines stopped flying into the country.”
She said the forum would give Zimbabwe a chance to lure potential partners in the aviation sector.
“Hosting this event will help us showcase some of our airports to the airlines and provide delegates with the opportunity to experience some of things which make our continent and country an attractive destination,” she added.
Transport and Infrastructural Development Obert Mpofu said the envisaged completion of Victoria Falls Airport next year would see the country becoming a regional hub in the tourism industry.
“Completion of the airport project will lead to an upsurge in tourism in this region,” he said.
Katie Bland, Routes Africa director said the forum had attracted over 350 aviation delegates, 44 countries, 40 airlines, 50 airports and more than 30 tourism authorities.