Home » General » Mzembi to Finalise Visa Issues With China

TOURISM and Hospitality Industry Minister Engineer Walter Mzembi might join a delegation led by Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa to China this week to finalise outstanding visa issues with the populous Asian nation.

Minister Mzembi said this last week while unveiling the 11-member inaugural board of directors for Mosi-Oa-Tunya Development Company, which he immediately tasked with modernising Victoria Falls.

Minister Mzembi said last year that Zimbabwe was targeting 2 million visitors from China, of the 200 million outbound Chinese travellers by 2020.

He said this was part of wider efforts to recapture tourists from traditional markets with a view to grow tourism into a $5 billion industry by 2020.

The tourism minister said that he anticipated increased airline traffic to Victoria Falls International Airport, which is expected to be commissioned in August, after its $150 million upgrade and expansion programme is completed.

“When I talk about enablers, you have one thing going for you as a board, which you can count on as a plus, sometime in August or September this year, we shall be commissioning the new Victoria Falls International Airport and that will be the game changer,” Minister Mzembi said.

The tourism minister said that when the airport has been commissioned, there should be marked increase in international airlines to the destination.

“We are dreaming, one day of takeoffs and landing every 30 minutes at Vic Falls (International Airport). To facilitate that, I am thinking myself and (ZTA CEO Karikoga) Kaseke must join the Vice President’s entourage to China to conclude outstanding visa issues,” he said.

Minister Mzembi said this would give his ministry bargaining power to lobby the Ministry of Transport, Communications and Infrastructural Development to conclude not just bilateral, but proper air service agreements.

The minister said he dreamt of a day when renowned internationally recognised airlines such as Virgin Atlantic, British Airways, China North, China South and Delta airlines would land at the Victoria Falls airport.

Minister Mzembi said the modernisation of Victoria Falls was envisaged to cater for the different interests of tourists who frequenting the resort once tourist traffic starts increasing with improved landing capacity for the airport.

He said modernisation of Victoria Falls and the potential benefits to be derived from the programme was one of the low hanging fruits and lucrative projects that Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa had direct interest in.

The minister envisions a tourist package and fusion of natural tourist attractions and modern facilities to cater for visitors needs in the same manner that the US and Canada have treated the Niagara Falls on their border.

The Niagara Falls, one of the world’s most recognised natural spectacles, draws on average 40 million visitors annually and generates in excess of $30 billion revenue, compared to under $1 billion that Zimbabwe and Zambia share each year from visitors to Victoria Falls.

It is expected that development of modern facilities in Victoria Falls will complement the resort town’s natural allure of teeming wildlife, fauna and flora and rich cultural heritage to place it at the pinnacle of tourism in Africa.

Source : The Herald