The Africa Travel Association (ATA) announced today that registration is now open for the 37th Annual World Congress, to be held from May 18-22, in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, one of the world’s top natural wonders and adventure capitals. ATA’s hallmark event on the African continent will be hosted by the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) under the auspices of the Honorable Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Walter Mzembi. The theme of this year’s event is “Africa Tourism: Partnering for the Future.”
Delegates can register for the five-day travel industry event online at ATA’s website: http://africatravelassociation.org/congress_reg.html or call +1-212-447-1357. Special early bird rates for ATA members and students are available until April 30 at $400. After this date, ATA members can register for $500. Non-member registration fee is $600.
Among the expected 300 participants, are tourism ministers and industry experts representing tourism boards, tour operators, and their product development executives, front-line agents, ground operator companies, airlines, and hotels. Participants from the travel trade media and the corporate, nonprofit, and academic sectors are also expected to attend, along with African Diaspora representatives and ATA’s Young Professionals Program participants.
Zimbabwe is home to a diverse range of tourist attractions, including its own seven wonders: (1) people and culture, (2) history and heritage, (3) Great Zimbabwe (grand medieval palace), (4) Victoria Falls (Mosi-oa-Tunya), (5) wildlife and nature, (6) Eastern Highlands, and (7) Lake Kariba. Delegates will sample some of these wonders during the Host Country Day and by participating in pre- and post-congress tours.
The ATA International Board of Directors meeting will be held on Friday, May 18. Saturday, May 19, begins with sessions focusing on Destination Zimbabwe, followed by an opening ceremony with cultural entertainment. The next few days include ample networking, learning, and professional development panels and workshops, addressing industry topics, such as community-based travel, agro-tourism, academic travel, faith-based tourism, e-tourism, marketing, branding, private sector investment, women and tourism, sustainable tourism, and African culinary products. Delegates will also participate in roundtables for tourism ministers, a media marketplace, networking events, host country day(s), and gala dinners. Zimbabwe will also organize a marketplace, featuring art, sculpture, and daily excursions in Victoria Falls. The event will close on Tuesday, May 22. Pre- and post-congress excursions and trips will be available to delegates.
The Congress will take place at the Elephant Hills Resort, www.elephanthillshotel.com , in Victoria Falls. The venue offers special accommodation rates for delegates. Special rates are also available at other hotels in Victoria Falls for delegates at http://africatravelassociation.org/events/ac.html .
PRESENTING SPONSOR AND OFFICIAL AIRLINE
South African Airways, Presenting Sponsor and Official Airline of the 2012 ATA World Congress, has organized special discounts for delegates attending the ATA World Congress in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. For travelers originating from one of SAA’s US gateways (New York City or Washington DC), there are discounts of 10 percent off of most published fares. For delegates traveling from one of SAA’s African or other international gateways, discounts of between 5 to 15 percent off of most published fares are available. For more information on SAA and their international gateways, please visit www.flysaa.com.
The attack marks a shocking new development in a crisis that sees more than three rhinos killed every day in their southern African homelands. Trade in rhino horn is completely illegal but demand from Vietnam and China fuels poaching and smuggling, putting the rhinos at risk of extinction.
Rhino horn is made of keratin – the same material as human fingernails – but an urban myth about a senior Vietnamese figure being cured of cancer pushed up demand in recent years and as its price rose, it has become a status symbol and hangover tonic. Longer-standing uses such as a supposed fever treatment in traditional Chinese medicine and as ornamental carvings have also driven up prices.
With the prices high and, until recently, the penalties very low, international organised crime networks mobilised to supply the illegal trade – wildlife trafficking is a multi-billion dollar enterprise only surpassed by the smuggling of drugs, arms and people.
The zoo raid, and thefts from museums across Europe in recent years, reveal how the criminals have been keeping ahead of authorities. “The criminal networks involved have shown themselves to be far more innovative and utterly ruthless,” said Julian Rademeyer, an expert on rhino horn at Traffic, the leading wildlife trade monitoring organisation. “They are often outthinking law enforcement and government regulations, finding new loopholes to exploit.”
The criminals have even shown a brazen marketing flair: the idea that powdered rhino horn is an aphrodisiac began as a western myth, said Rademeyer, but the syndicates latched on to it and now sell wine laced with rhino horn as aphrodisiacs in Vietnam.
Rademeyer and all the key wildlife trade groups decline to detail the current price of rhino horn, for fear of encouraging more crime. But it is public knowledge that the horn peaked in price at about $65,000 a kilogram in 2012. It is thought to have fallen significantly since then, though it remains many times more valuable than elephant ivory.
There has been a crackdown on poaching in South Africa, home to about 70% of all rhinos, but killings have spiked in Namibia and Zimbabwe as poachers seek easier targets.
“There have been warnings for the last four to five years that zoos need to tighten up security,” Rademeyer said. Police are visiting every zoo and wildlife park in the UK that houses rhinos – 111 in total – to provide security advice.
Rademeyer said there have been hundreds of rhino horn thefts across Europe in recent years. In 2016, seven men received lengthy jail sentences in the UK over a series of museum raids which targeted horns and jade artefacts estimated to be worth over £50m.
However, the epicentre of the rhino crisis remains in southern Africa, where poor young men are willing to risk their lives by poaching. They receive just a tiny fraction of the horns’ ultimate value, but even a few hundred dollars is a huge sum in their communities.
Hundreds of poachers have been killed in the last seven years and a much smaller but significant number of rangers, soldiers and policemen have also died. “People have limited sympathy for poachers but I think [their poverty] is a reality that has to be grappled with,” said Rademeyer.
“Shooting and jailing the poachers is not a long term solution,” he said. “They are very easy [for the crime syndicates] to find and very easy to exploit. Whether they get killed or arrested means very little to the syndicates, and the same applies to the couriers. The kingpins who are making the big money are getting away with it.”
Rademeyer said police cooperation is crucial to tackling the global rhino horn trade: “You are dealing with very sophisticated transnational organised crime syndicates in many cases and yet your law enforcement is hampered by international borders. Police tend to police their own backyard.” He says campaigns in Asia to stigmatise rhino horn use are important too, and have helped cut the shark fin trade.
The Paris poaching also raises the controversial question of whether a legalised trade in rhino horn, harvested sustainably from wild or farmed animals, could destroy the black market. Many nations and organisations strongly oppose the idea, saying it would simply allow illegal horns to be laundered with fake permits, but South Africa backs the idea.
Duan Biggs, a researcher at Griffith University in Australia, said: “The issue is complex, but a well managed and enforced legal trade that is structured to fund rhino protection and deliver community benefits is likely to work better than the status quo.” He accepts some people might find it unethical, but said: “I think that poaching a rhino in a zoo or in the wild is even more morally repugnant than a well regulated legal trade.”
However, a legalised rhino horn trade is unlikely any time soon. Swaziland made such a proposal at an international wildlife trade summit in Johannesburg in September and it was soundly defeated.
Rademeyer remains cautiously optimistic that the perilous decline of the world’s rhino can be reversed, pointing to their comeback from the brink of extinction in the 1950s. “We have beaten this before,” he said.
Tourism has proved to be one of the world’s fastest growing economic sectors, contributing significantly to the Gross Domestic Product of various nations.
Yet the potential of this sector as an instrument of helping bring peace to the world has not been fully exploited.
With international tourist arrivals totalling almost 1,2 billion last year and expected to reach 1,8 billion by 2030, such large numbers can be useful in spreading peace.
It is important that more than half of the 1,8 billion tourist arrivals by 2030 will be in emerging economies and developing countries.
More statistics from the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) show that tourism is accounting for 10 percent of the global GDP, 30 percent of the world’s trade services and one in 11 jobs worldwide.
The above figures leave no doubt that tourism is an economic powerhouse that can be used to create opportunities to improve the people’s livelihoods.
More importantly, the huge number of travellers can be fully exploited to bring a word of peace among nations and open new public diplomacy fronts.
This is why the First World Conference on Tourism for Development held in Beijing, China, last week should be viewed as one of those important steps in opening new avenues for tourism.
The theme of the conference, “Tourism for Peace and Development” was a clear indication on the direction stakeholders want the sector to take.
That Chinese Premier Li Keqiang was part of the conference, which he officially opened, signified the importance of the tourism sector to China and the world at large.
And the speakers had a clear mission: without peace there is no tourism to talk about, so why not use tourism to create peace to ensure its survival?
Premier Li’s speech was an eye opener and one of the most important as it gave direction to the conference.
“There is need to make tourism a bond of peace,” was his message, “something that contributes to friendly exchanges and harmonious relations among the people to open and inclusive development”.
One of the solutions proffered by Premier Li was that countries and regions estranged in relations need to ease restrictions on personnel flows to allow cultural exchanges and “break the ice in bilateral exchanges”.
In Zimbabwe, tourism has managed to break the barriers with other nations and among the local people, effectively contributing to peace and economic development.
Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Dr Walter Mzembi attended the conference in Beijing where he spoke on tourism’s role in public diplomacy following decades of isolation by the West.
The early years of the millennium saw Western countries, not happy with the land reform, issue advisories to their citizens against travelling to Zimbabwe.
For nearly a decade, tourism in Zimbabwe was almost dead as the conflict with the Western countries continued.
Zimbabwe had been virtually ex-communicated from bodies such as the UNWTO due to non-payment of membership subscription as a result of the economic problems arising from its fallout with these countries over the agrarian reform.
Inflation last recorded in December 2008 was in excess of 240 million percent, the Zimbabwe dollar was in quadrillions to the US$ and the international media onslaught had virtually collapsed the Zimbabwe brand.
In February 2009, the Government of National Unity was formed and Dr Mzembi was appointed to the Tourism and Hospitality Industry portfolio.
What he said at the conference left many delegates with no doubt that tourism can indeed be a tool for peace.
And to quote him: “I immediately recognised the potential of people-to-people diplomatic potential of the tourism sector and how it would underwrite inter-state diplomacy going forward,” he said while addressing a session of the conference under theme “Tourism for Peace”.
Within a few months, Zimbabwe had regained its membership to bodies such as UNWTO, World Travel Tourism Council and the Regional Tourism Organisation of Southern Africa (retosa).
It was also important that a public diplomatic offensive be launched and this set Dr Mzembi and his team on a worldwide tour.
The team reached out to leaders of countries that had imposed travel restrictive measures against Zimbabwe for the survival of tourism.
What followed the diplomatic efforts was a clean bill of travel first from Germany, then countries in the European Union, the United States and Japan.
People-to-people to diplomacy had won for Zimbabwe and the peace brought by the tourism actors ensure the country’s tourism sector would easily return to normal.
The ultimate destination of the diplomatic offensive was the co-hosting of the 20th session of the General Assembly of the UNWTO by Zimbabwe and Zambia in 2013.
In between, tourism diplomacy had seen Zimbabwe elected to the executive council of the UNWTO, got successive chairmanship of retosa, was two-time president of the African Travel Association and now second time chairperson of the UNWTO Commission for Africa.
Dr Mzembi was able to graphically describe the situation at the Beijing conference.
“Unfortunately, following the inception of our agrarian reform, the response of a section of the international community created near similar conditions to those that prevailed pre-1980 for tourism, similar to war conditions,” he said.
“The response in itself by the section of the international community was a failure of State diplomacy. Tourism then came to the rescue, refusing to be a victim of collateral damage arising out of the failure of State diplomacy.
“Tourism has a natural patent to soft power and it should be deployed in public and people-to-people diplomacy.”
Going forward, it is clear, and living in the era of terrorism, that it is not hard power alone that will defeat the scourge.
It is complementary action from soft power that will ultimately win because terrorism is conceived and transported in the mind.
Dr Mzembi provided useful insights to support this argument.
“It is an ideological mindset and the citizen diplomacy will overwhelm terror because you cannot ask seven billion people to stay at home — 1,2 billion people are already part of the travel revolution,” he said.
Zimbabwe’s tourism minister observed that no country is safe from the scourge of terror and, therefore, “an attack on humankind no matter how geographically remote or distant is an attack on us all”.
The terror problem is rampant and requires global solutions, he said. It also should not just deal with outcomes and symptoms, but go to the causes.
“What really causes terror?” he asked the delegates. “We must look critically at current sources of terror, that it is not a coincidence that they appear to be from collapsed States, arising out of interventions in internal matters of targeted regimes.
“There is a link also with the emerging current refuge crisis in Europe.”
As more people travel around the world, they must be treated as ambassadors of goodwill who bring an olive branch of peace to their hosts.
And the number is expected to increase exponentially in the next decade, considering that in 1950 there were just 25 million international travellers.
Tourism definitely has the capacity to fight poverty and build peaceful societies and the sector must fully contribute to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 universal goals.
It was important that the conference in Beijing was all-inclusive, with UN representatives, government ministers and high level tourism officials from across the world attending.
The Zimbabwe Council for Tourism will approach Government to propose incentives and initiatives meant to mitigate the negative impact of the dollar-rand exchange rate disparity on the tourism sector.
ZCT president Mr Francis Ngwenya said yesterday that continued weakening of the South African rand has made Zimbabwe a more expensive destination, resulting in a loss of visitors from that market.
This adds another significant cost to an industry battling to contain or limit the effect of the 15 percent value added tax on accommodation sales to visitors, absorbed fully or partially by operators to avoid passing on the cost, as this would drive away the tourists.
He said Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Walter Mzembi has given ZCT audience over the issue and another round table discussion had been set with him to present their multi-pronged strategy, which in the main seeks to address the negative impact of the rand.
The Tourism minister is on record saying appreciation of the greenback against the rand, while not the sole reason for loss of visitors from SA, has made Zimbabwe uncompetitive as a destination.
“For us South Africa used to be and continues to be a big market. We need to find ways of getting that market to come back into Zimbabwe; whether it is by pricing in rand or whether by coming up with packages suitable for that region specifically,” Mr Ngwenya said.
Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation (Jogmec) will offer more of its technologies and experiences to Zimbabwe, in a move aimed at attracting investment from Japanese mining companies.
Jogmec works as an advisor for Japanese mining companies, with a view to secure their safe and stable activities in mining sectors outside Japan.
Speaking at meeting on sustainable development of mineral resources for the mining sector in Zimbabwe held yesterday in Harare, Japanese Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Yoshi Hiraishi said the technical support would contribute to sustainable exploitation of minerals in Zimbabwe.
“I firmly believe that the Japanese accumulated experiences and vast technical know-how in mining can greatly contribute to the sustainable and environmentally friendly exploitation of Zimbabwe,” he said.
“The active involvement of Jogmec in mining sector will hopefully, attract Japanese companies’ attention, which may lead to investment in Zimbabwe’s mining sector by Japanese mining companies in the future.”
Japan depends on foreign sources for many minerals essential to its modern industry like iron ore, coke, copper and bauxite.
Jogmec currently has five projects running in the country under its technical corporation programme that involves a transfer of researching technologies to government on sustainable exploitation of minerals.
This was made possible by a memorandum of understanding agreement signed in September 2015. The agreement allowed the transfer of the geographic information systems (satellite image analysis) techniques and remote sensing know-how to Zimbabwean geologists.
A director in the Mines and Mining Development ministry, John Makandwa, said Zimbabwe was yet to use modern technology.
“Zimbabwe is under explored and yet to experience application of modern exploration technologies. Also, considering its highly prospective geology, the country has huge investment opportunities in the exploration and mine development,” he said.
“Government is reviving exploration through the Mining Promotion Corporation to augment private sector efforts.”
For any Japanese mining company wishing to invest in Zimbabwe, Jogmec will get 25% tax rates and royalties on gold worth 5%, diamonds 15%, base metals 2% and coal 1%.
The country’s low exploration is due to the negative perception of investing in Zimbabwe, due to government policies, which scare investors.
The mining sector is capital intensive and local banks are not offering long term capital, leaving offshore funding as the only available option. The situation has been compounded by the low commodity prices on the world market threatening the viability of resources-driven economies.
As power crisis continue to haunt the Southern Region, Zimbabwe has joined other member states in an effort to generate electricity using wind by establishing a pilot project in Mamina (Mashonaland West).
Harare – The pilot project is meant to study the viability of generating electricity using wind in the country to avert power crisis.
Wind energy, which involves using air to turn turbines and generate electricity, is regarded as one of the most reliable, cheap, renewable and clean form of power that does not pollute the environment as compare to other types such as thermal. Energy and Power Development Minister Samuel Undenge said government was doing all it can to produce adequate power.
“We want to explore all avenues to produce adequate power for the country, wind energy included. We are already running a wind energy pilot project in Mamina to see how feasible it is if implemented in the country,” Undenge said. Experts contend that wind energy potential exist in most parts of Zimbabwe for wind pumping and other mechanical conversion systems, with utilizable wind speeds ranging from 2,6 metres per second(m/s) to about 4 m/s.
Generally most parts of the country have a good wind energy resource averaging 3, 2 m/s all year round, good enough for wind pumping except areas around Kariba (Mashonaland Central). Areas around Bulawayo and some selected areas in the Eastern Highlands (Manicaland) have potential for power generation application since the most prevalent wind speeds range from 4 to 6 m/s.
These wind speed ranges have a high frequency and time distributions to give satisfactory power generation resumes.
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has set itself a target of generating 20 percent of the region’s energy needs from renewable sources by 2025. Other SADC member states currently leading the quest on how to harness the vast wind potential that lies unexploited in the region are Mozambique, Tanzania, South Africa Madagascar and Namibia.
According to the African Development Bank, Sub-Saharan Africa has the potential to provide more than 170 gigawatts (GW) of additional power using wind far more than the sub-region’s current installations
provided other forms, apart from thermal and hydro are exploited.
These are solar and wind. Wind farms are also relatively easier to construct – as it takes about twelve months to build one with a capacity to generate 100 MW.
Zimbabwe Power Company managing director Noah Gwariro said generating energy using wind was pollution free. “Wind energy is really something which SADC can turn to, South Africa and other regional countries are already doing it.
Of course in the earlier days it may distort the skyline, but people will get used to it,” Gwariro said.
Some of the current wind farms in Southern Africa include two facilities in South Africa’s Western Cape Province (Klipheuwel and Darling); various 21 kilowatts wind/solar hybrids in Malawi. A 10 MW pilot project in Chicumbane in Mozambique is also under development.
In addition, Belgian green electricity company, Electrawinds, has begun the construction of a wind turbine in the harbor of Coega, near Port Elizabeth, South Africa.
The development is the first phase of a large wind farm that, in time, will comprise 25 wind turbines.
The first large scale wind farm in South Africa became operational in 2014, and others are in planning and construction stages.
Most of these are earmarked for locations along the Eastern Cape coastline. Eskom has constructed one small scale prototype windfarm at Klipheuwel in the Western Cape and another demonstrator site is near Darling with phase 1 completed.
In terms of future capacity building, wind power is expected to play a marginally bigger role in providing energy. Of the total new generation projects that came on board in Southern Africa in 2011, wind energy comprised 1, 5 percent.
This came entirely from a 25 MW project in the Lesotho highlands. In 2012 alone, 3,6 percent of new generation projects was wind power.
These included a 100 MW project from an Independent Power Producer (IPP) in South Africa and a 40 MW IPP project in Luderitz, Namibia. In 2013, a 40 MW wind project from an IPP in South Africa’s Eastern Cape made up one percent of the entire new generation capacity that came on stream during that year.
Despite the projects that have already been announced, South Africa was promoting 2,500 MW of wind power by end of last year. According to Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC), compared to other parts of the world, wind energy generation in Southern Africa still has a long way to go.
The world’s top five wind energy producers are currently the United States (installed capacity of 35,064 MW), China (25,805 MW), Germany (25,777 MW), Spain (19,149 MW) and India (10,926MW).
Apart from generating electricity, wind energy can also be used to pump water for agricultural purposes among other uses.
Wind turbines use the wind’s kinetic energy to generate electrical energy that can be used in homes and businesses. Individual wind turbines can be used to generate electricity on a small scale – to power a single home, for example.
A large number of wind turbines grouped together, sometimes known as a wind farm or wind park, can generate electricity on a much larger scale.
A wind turbine works like a high-tech version of an old-fashioned windmill.
The wind blows on the angled blades of the rotor, causing it to spin, converting some of the wind’s kinetic energy into mechanical energy. Sensors in the turbine detect how strongly the wind is blowing and from which direction.
The rotor automatically turns to face the wind, and automatically brakes in dangerously high winds to protect the turbine from damage. A shaft and gearbox connect the rotor to a generator (, so when the rotor spins, so does the generator.
The generator uses an electromagnetic field to convert this mechanical energy into electrical energy.
The electrical energy from the generator is transmitted along cables to a substation.
Here, the electrical energy generated by all the turbines in the wind farm is combined and converted to a high voltage. The national grid uses high voltages to transmit electricity efficiently through the power lines to the homes and businesses that need it.
Here, other transformers reduce the voltage back down to a usable level. Wind power converts the kinetic energy in wind to generate electricity or mechanical power.
The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) said achieving a 36 per cent share of renewable energy in the global energy mix by 2030 has the potential to increase global gross domestic product (GDP) by up to 1.1 per cent, roughly USD 1.3 trillion.
“This analysis provides compelling evidence that achieving the needed energy transition would not only mitigate climate change, but also stimulate the economy, improve human welfare and boost employment worldwide,” the agency said recently.
The improvements in human welfare, IRENA noted, would go well beyond gains in GDP thanks to a range of social and environmental benefits.
The impact of renewable energy deployment on welfare is estimated to be three to four times larger than its impact on GDP, with global welfare increasing as much as 3, 7 per cent.
Employment in the renewable energy sector would also increase from 9, 2 million global jobs today, to more than 24 million by 2030.
Not the best of times for Zimbabwe’s tourism industry. Tourist arrivals were down by 20% in 2015 in comparison to the previous year, according to the Employers’ Association of Tourism and Safari Operators, the reason was, quite predictably, the largely reported Ebola outbreak, which put the whole world in danger, but had its center in West Africa.
The industry isn’t backing down, though, and several actions have been put in place in order not only to improve on last year’s disappointing results, which saw companies suspending the payment of bonuses, but also beat 2009, a record-year for Zimbabwe.
Tourism stakeholders expect a 10% rise in demand, but insiders estimate that big marketing campaigns will be needed for companies to accomplish their goals.
2004’s Ebola outbreak cost Zimbabwe a whopping $6 million, as cancellations rained down and buyers withdrew from the important tourism expo, but the Zimbabwe tourism authority believes the industry is making its recovery.
Meanwhile, neighboring Zambia has been visited by an estimated 1 million tourists last year, registering a 3.24% growth on average over the last five years. According to Zimbabwe tourism insiders, a similar growth could be within reach if the Victoria Falls International Airport was to be completed.
The completion of the airport could make a really significant difference for the country, as it would triple the handling capacity of the Victoria Falls airport, allowing more airlines to be licensed in Zimbabwe and increasing the number of passenger to 1.2 million, where it now lays around 400,000.
Unfortunately, the introduction of VAT on foreign tourists’ expenses has not helped the industry’s case, and neither has the devaluation of African currencies like the South African rand, both of which have taken a further toll on tourism, especially seeing as South African tourists were responsible for a slight boost to the industry in 2015.
It isn’t just the overzealous actions of local governments or the scare of infectious diseases that is casting a shadow over Zimbabwe tourism though. Two lion sub-species, which are mainly found in the region, have been considered endangered, and a ban on hunting products is pending the US government’s approval.
The Zimbabwe Tourism Council has reacted to this impending ban by expressing its disappointment with this action which might have substantial impact on the hunting industry and thus on the already crippled tourism industry of the country.
USA is the biggest market for Zimbabwe’s hunting packages, which are likely to be affected, but the ban also causes fear that other countries will follow such example. The argument behind these fears is that hunters will be discouraged by the fact that they can’t import their hunted goods, and they will stop hunting altogether.
The ban comes after a tourist shot ‘Cecil, the Lion’, a popular Zimbabwe attraction, and is only the latest in a growing list of bans on local hunting products.
Hunting will be one of the main topics of the 2016 Tourism Convention, to be hosted in Victoria Falls from February 10 to 12, an event aimed at encouraging the various sectors, including the people and government, to get involved in the tourism industry.
Cape Town – fastjet on Monday, 18 January, announced its newest international routes – from Johannesburg to Harare and Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe.
The launch of these routes comes after fastjet received clearance from the Zimbabwean and South African governments to operate flights between the two respective countries.
Return flights from Harare International Airport and Victoria Falls International Airport to Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport will operate using fastjet’s modern Airbus A319 jet aircraft with seating for up to 144 passengers.
The Johannesburg/Harare route will commence on 1 February 2016 and operate daily with an additional daily flight on this route expected soon, the airline said in a statement.
Flights linking Victoria Falls to and from Johannesburg will initially be three times a week on Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays, commencing 3 February 2016.
Tickets for flights will be on sale this week, with fastjet advising passengers to book early to take advantage of its lowest priced fares on both routes of R1 340* ($80) one-way. This excludes government and airport taxes (R837 [$50] departing Zimbabwe / R586 [$35] departing South Africa)
The initial daily flights will depart from Harare at 06:15 and land in Johannesburg at 07:55, a flight time of 1 hour 40 minutes. The return flight from Johannesburg to Harare departs at 08:40, landing at 10:15 (all local times).
Finalised slots and timetables for the flights linking Victoria Falls and Johannesburg are still to be confirmed by the respective airports.
The flights to Harare and Victoria Falls mark the third and fourth international routes for fastjet from South Africa with the airline presently operating to Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar.
fastjet also announced that it expects to receive approval for additional international flights to commence from Zimbabwe to further East and Southern Africa markets within the first quarter of 2016.
“The only alternative to flying is to undertake long and uncomfortable journeys by road, which can take up to 20 hours from Johannesburg to Harare or Victoria Falls,” fastjet’s Chief Commercial Officer Richard Bodin, says.
“As has been the case with other routes that we have launched, we expect many of our passengers to be first time flyers who, because of prohibitively high fares, could not afford to travel by air previously,” as recent research undertaken by the fastjet shows up to 40% of passengers on all routes are first time flyers able to afford air travel for the first time.
Available for purchase on these routes will be fastjet’s luggage upgrade option, ‘Freighty’, that allows passengers to transport up to 80kg of checked in bags.
The Freighty luggage option in particular is expected to be popular with traders flying with fastjet to purchase wholesale produce in Johannesburg to transport back to their home markets to sell.
ZIMBABWE – African environmentalists looking to create a sustainable tourism industry for the 21st century have turned to Scotland for help.
A pilot project has been launched in Zimbabwe to develop minimum standards for eco-friendly businesses to attract visitors using a benchmark developed in Perth.
The initiative is straightforward and the potential impact on biodiversity, communities and the country as a whole is enormous
Green Tourism is already the world’s largest accreditation body for the hospitality industry promoting sustainability. It has more than 2,500 members in the UK and has helped launch green tourism systems in Canada, New Zealand, Sweden, Italy and Ireland.
The travel and leisure sector plays an increasingly important role in the economy of Zimbabwe which accounts for one of the African continent’s finest and largest concentrations of wildlife. By helping businesses cut costs, reduce waste, increase energy efficiency and conserve natural resources it’s hoped the country can build a stronger more competitive tourism sector for the benefit of local communities and help reduce poverty.
The internationally renowned five-star Victoria Falls Hotel, overlooking one of the greatest natural wonders of the world, and the prestigious Victoria Falls Safari Lodge are among the first of 20 hospitality companies to join the pioneering project.
“We want to be pioneers of sustainable tourism in Africa and we believe that with the help of Green Tourism we will be able to come up with the right guidelines to show the world we are serious about conservation, the environment and combatting climate change,” said Sophie Zirabwe, executive director of planning, research and development for the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority.
Zimbabwe chose the Green Tourism programme after looking at a number of schemes around the world.
The chief executive for Environment Africa, Charlene Hewat said: “The Green Tourism initiative for Zimbabwe is practical, straightforward and the potential positive impact on biodiversity, communities and the country as a whole is enormous.”
Zimbabwe currently only has 2 per cent of the tourism market share in Africa while South Africa has 29 per cent and Mauritius 5 per cent.
At a recent wildlife conference in Harare, the minister of tourism, Walter Mzembi, described tourism as providing the quickest prospect for turning Zimbabwe around and creating a £3.3 billion tourism economy by 2020.
Perth-based Green Tourism was the first initiative of its kind to be independently validated by the International Centre for Responsible Tourism on behalf of VisitEngland, VisitWales and the Northern Ireland Tourist Board. It is also endorsed by VisitScotland and Failte Ireland.
A study by the independent think-tank TotemTourism into the ethics and expertise of 158 schemes used by businesses around the world to boost sustainability credentials identified Green Tourism as the Best of the Best.
This week, two events have pushed the revival of the tourism industry to even greater heights. The first one is the ongoing World Trade Organization ministerial conference that has seen the country hosting up to five thousand delegates.
Hosting such a huge delegation has meant good business for hotels, especially those with world class accommodation. One hotelier, for instance, says that his hotel is full house as a result of the conference.
“Our hotel is fully booked thanks to the ongoing WTO Conference. The timing was also perfect because it is almost Christmas. We do not have available accommodation until next year and we are very happy,” said Bidwood Suites Hotel General Manager Ambrose Mwendwa.
It has also validated the country as a safe and ideal destination for business travellers.
The second event is Kenya being voted as the world’s leading safari destination by World Travel Awards (WTA) beating countries such as Zimbabwe and South Africa among others.
The ‘Oscar’ of the tourism industry voted for Kenya in different categories which include Africa’s leading airline in the business class category which Kenya Airways won.
The major endorsement of Kenya Airways will likely revive the name of the national carrier after the turbulent times it has been facing such as recording Sh25.7billion in losses.
Diani Beach scooped Africa’s beach destination putting the country ahead of other contestants. Other winners include Africa’s leading cruise port which Port of Mombasa won, Africa’s leading Eco-Lodge scooped by Sanctuary Olonana and Africa’s leading Green Hotel won by Nairobi Serena Hotel.
The Maasai Mara National Reserve also won Kenya Africa’s leading National Park while Finch Hattons won Kenya Africa’s leading Safari Lodge. Additionally, Diani Reef Beach Resort and Spa scooped the continent’s leading spa resort.
Kenya Tourism Board was also a big winner scooping Africa’s leading tourist board.
Twiga Tours was also a big winner taking the world’s leading luxury safari company and the world’s responsible tourism award. It also clinched Africa’s Responsible Tourism Award and Africa’s leading luxury Safari Company.
“We congratulate Kenya on this deserving win and encourage the country to continue their commitment to preserving the unique heritage bestowed to the country for the sake of generations to come,” said WTA President Graham Cooke adding that Kenya’s win was an endorsement of the destination known as home to authentic safari.
These events follows other successes such as hosting Pope Francis late last month and US President Barack Obama in July which put Kenya on top of the tourism map.
They also come at a necessary time after the tourism industry faced problems following close to two years of turbulence in the industry after isolated terror attacks cases made Kenya get served travel advisories bringing tourism on its knees.