HARARE, March 30 (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwe has attracted 10 new airline routes and frequencies over the past two years under the International Finance Corporation (IFC) funded program, as the country intensify efforts toward the recovery of the tourism industry post-COVID-19, an official said Thursday.
The new routes put to 15, the total number of foreign airlines now flying into Zimbabwe, officials said at a stakeholder meeting.
Theodius Chinyanga, the permanent secretary in Zimbabwe's Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development, said increased air connectivity and revitalization of air transport services were critical to the recovery of Zimbabwe's tourism sector.
The two-year Zimbabwe Destination Development Program (ZDDP), implemented through technical support from the IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, had helped Zimbabwe to recover and gain new air routes and frequencies over the past two years, Chinyanga said.
Among the program's objectives were to recover the country's pre-pandemic route network, develop new routes and frequencies for Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport in Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe, and the Victoria Falls International Airport, as well as to enhance the competitiveness of Harare and Victoria Falls as air transport gateways for the southern African region.
"Through this strategic approach, we have achieved some significant milestones over the past two years. Most notably, we have secured 10 routes and frequencies, including a long-haul flight into Victoria Falls from Frankfurt by Eurowings Discover," said Chinyanga. "We have also strengthened connectivity with South Africa, which is one of our main tourism source markets."
He said Zimbabwe will build on the momentum that has been generated by the IFC-funded air service development program, which ends this month, to position the country to take advantage of opportunities in the African Continental Free Trade Area through increased connectivity and modern aviation infrastructure.
IFC country manager Adamou Labara said the IFC was committed to supporting Zimbabwe to improve air access and services at its main airports in Harare and the resort town of Victoria Falls.
The IFC was also committed to helping Zimbabwe position Victoria Falls as a regional gateway to support tourism growth and development in the country, he said.
"The IFC recognizes the importance of tourism to Zimbabwe's economy. We are also aware that the devastating impact of the pandemic and global economic shocks has negatively affected the tourism sector, including through business disruptions and job losses, resulting in increased poverty and a dent in people's lives," Labara said. "The Zimbabwe Destination Development Program was designed to mitigate some of these impacts, as well as to help the tourism and air transport sectors prepare for recovery and sustainable growth."