STAKEHOLDERS in the tourism sector have hailed Eurowings Discover, a German-based airline’s intention to fly into Victoria Falls saying the move brings confidence to the destination and bolsters the sector’s recovery efforts post the Covid-19 pandemic.
A subsidiary of one of the world’s biggest airlines – Lufthansa Group – Eurowings Discovery, which is head-quartered in Frankfurt has announced that it is planning a marketing drive ahead of its maiden flight to Victoria Falls on March 30 this year.
Eurowings general manager Mr Andre Schulz was quoted by CAJ News as saying: “We are planning educational campaigns as we penetrate the market.
“We will have campaigns with every stakeholder, including media, as we market the route.
“Ours is to take people to the destination, which is Victoria Falls, and the tourism industry and other stakeholders should come on board to market the destination.”
The airline, which already is flying into Namibia daily will start by flying into Victoria Falls, via Windhoek.
It is hoped that if volumes support business, the leisure airline would fly directly into Victoria Falls from Frankfurt.
The airline will start with a thrice-per-week schedule into Victoria Falls from Frankfurt.
Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) head of corporate affairs Mr Godfrey Koti said the announcement by Eurowings Discovery demonstrates “exceptional international confidence” in the country.
“This development of Eurowings Discovery coming into Victoria Falls showcases exceptional international confidence into the destination and we will definitely see this assisting us in the tourism recovery efforts post the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Of course, we are hoping Africa sees this as a way of bouncing back and as a way of sending a clear message to the international community also about how good our vaccination programme has been,” he said.
Zimbabwe embarked on a mass vaccination programme early last year and is targeting a herd immunity of 10 million people out of total population of about 15 million.
As of last Thursday, a total of 4 192 768 people had received the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine since the beginning of the mass vaccination programme while 3 216 258 have received the second.
“Obviously, we give credit to the Ministry of Health and Child Care for the continued support that they have given the tourism sector in the fact that if you recall Victoria Falls was the first city to get herd immunity.
“We are hoping that the booster shots will also further cement the need for us to be recognised as a solid destination which knows what it is doing in terms of trying by all means possible to protect its citizens, visitors, and most importantly its human capital that will be working in the tourism sector,” said Mr Koti.
“So, this also works very much in line with our national Tourism Recovery and Growth Strategy, which seeks to achieve a US$5 billion economy by 2025.
“We can say we are on course and we were very elated that Eurowings has decided to come into Victoria Falls and it really increases access into the destination and the more direct access, the better.
“We know our counterparts from the Airports Company of Zimbabwe (ACZ) are also very delighted and getting ready to get these guys to come through into the country.”
ACZ chief executive officer Mr Tawanda Gusha and his board chairman Mr Devnada Popatlal could not be reached for comment by the time of going to print.
Tourism Business Council of Zimbabwe president Mr Wengayi Nhau said any development that results in the coming in or reintroduction of an air service into destination Zimbabwe is a welcome one.
He said this was because there is no tourism to talk about without a reliable and efficient air transport system.
“So, it is a welcome move to have them coming because that will only help to endorse our destination, to boost confidence and it also becomes a pacesetter to others who might also be having some second thoughts or dilemma as regards to having Zimbabwe as one of their destinations of choice.”
Mr Nhau said having Eurowings Discovery was a big endorsement from one of Zimbabwe’s major source markets.
“We remain very cautious and optimistic with the future of that operation because having them coming in is one thing, and having them stay, flying in the destination is another thing,” he said.
Mr Nhau said players in the tourism industry were excited that Qatar Airways resumed flights into the country a couple of days ago and the sector remains optimistic that Emirates would come back as well.