As many as 80 000 more tourists a year could soon fly into Zimbabwe’s leading resort town of Victoria Falls.
These tourists will be a result of two large international airlines committing to the destination and a third increasing capacity, says tourism industry leader Ross Kennedy. “March 2017 heralds a new dawn for tourism, with the arrival of SAA’s A330-200 in Victoria Falls,” says Kennedy, chief executive of Africa Albida Tourism (AAT). “This is the beginning of an exciting and positive period for tourism in the region.”
On 1 March 2017, South African Airways began operating an Airbus A330-200 daily to Victoria Falls from Johannesburg, the largest passenger aircraft ever to land at Zimbabwe’s top resort town. The A330-200 has 222 seats, 88 more than the smaller aircraft it has replaced. Inbound flights have been heavily booked and demand is growing daily, according to the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe.
In addition, Africa’s largest airline – Ethiopian Airlines – will begin four flights weekly from 26 March 2017 from Addis Ababa to Victoria Falls, using the latest Boeing 737. Kenya Airways will begin direct flights three times a week from Nairobi to Victoria Falls on 18 May 2017. The Ethiopian Airlines flight route will be Addis Ababa – Victoria Falls – Gaborone – Addis Ababa. Kenya Airways will fly Nairobi – Victoria Falls – Cape Town – Victoria Falls – Nairobi.
“These three airlines alone add 80 000 new seats per annum into Victoria Falls International Airport and the region, offering a huge opportunity for growth, as well as connecting new destinations with the incredible Victoria Falls hub and KAZA tourism region,” Kennedy says.
Victoria Falls is in the middle of southern Africa’s Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA), which boasts some of the most pristine and diverse wildlife areas left on the planet. These routes will create new access to Africa’s iconic tourist destinations, with visitors now easily able to visit the Maasai Mara, Serengeti, Victoria Falls and Cape Town in one trip. The new $150 million Victoria Falls International Airport includes a new 4km long, 60m wide runway enabling long-haul wide-bodied aircraft to land.
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