THE resumption of British Airways’ flights to Victoria Falls after being suspended for more than a year, is a big endorsement of the country’s tourism sector and Zimbabwe’s investment profile, industry players have said.
There was a special reception last Thursday when the global airline service plane landed at Victoria Falls International Airport with more than 90 passengers on board. Various stakeholders that included tourism players were at the airport by 1PM to welcome back the British Airways, which is operated by Comair.
The airline’s operations were suspended on 24 March last year when many countries enforced Covid-19 travel restrictions.
Its return comes at a time when more airlines have expressed interest to resume flights to Zimbabwe, which has made significant strides in ensuring visitors’ safety through rolling out Covid-19 vaccinations.
Victoria Falls is the first city in the country to attain herd immunity after a majority of its residents were vaccinated.
The Comair country manager, Ms Karen Tumazos, said the resumption of flights was a big win for tourism operations.
“This is great for us to bring visitors to Victoria Falls City, which is one of the top destinations in Zimbabwe. It has been over a year since we last flew here and we are hoping to see an increase in passengers going forward,”
“We will be flying twice, weekly in May and from 1 June we resume daily flights and we hope to keep flying and increase frequencies to Zimbabwe,”
said Ms Tumazos.
Some of the passengers who came from South Africa were excited to be back to the resort city and could not wait to experience the adventures and wonders of Victoria Falls including seeing wildlife and sampling other activities.
“I have been coming to Victoria Falls for the past 15 years and I still get the drive to come back for more because I love this place,”
said Mr Michael Johnston.
Another visitor Miss Lathitha Gazi said:
“I look forward to the best experience in Victoria Falls and we want to have fun as we celebrate one of my family member’s birthdays.”
The locals who welcomed the visitors said the resumption of the flights will boost tourism in Victoria Falls.
“This is an exciting and important development for Victoria Falls because there is a lot of joy over the arrival of British Airways-Comair. This is another giant step in our road to recovery and we look forward to welcoming back more visitors,”
said Independent Consultant for ‘We are Victoria Falls Crisis and Recovery Initiative’ Co-ordinator, Ms Shelly Cox.
Roots Through Africa director, Mrs Yvonne Jandles, also expressed excitement saying the return of air services will improve business.
“Airlines are having confidence in us and we want to believe this is as a result of the residents’ positive response to the vaccination campaign,”
A representative of the Tourism Business Council, Mrs Barbara Murasiranwa said following the relaxation of lockdown measures most tourism players were back into business.
“We want to congratulate British Airways for taking this decision to resume flights and we are confident more airlines will do the same soon,”
she said. — @NyikaLingani.