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African airlines can help unlock the continent’s tourism potential by introducing intra-African flights that enhance connectivity between various destinations and encourage domestic travel, according to Zambia’s Minister for Tourism and Arts, Sylvia Masebo.
“The challenge in tourism has been the issue of connectivity. In Africa, it is difficult to move from one country to another, and this has been a barrier to enhancing intra-African tourism.”Sylvia Masebo
Zambia’s Minister for Tourism and Arts
“The challenge in tourism has been the issue of connectivity. In Africa, it is difficult to move from one country to another, and this has been a barrier to enhancing intra-African tourism,” she recently said following the inauguration of a new direct Kenya Airways’ flight into Livingstone from its hub at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi. In its 2013 budget, the Zambian government had identified infrastructural development as a key sector that needed to be improved to develop domestic tourism.
During the launch festivities for the new route Kenya Airways’ Chief Executive Officer and Group Managing Director, Dr Titus Naikuni, highlighted that airlines have contributed towards creating and supporting sustainable development in Africa by enabling travel from one corner of the continent to another and called for measures that will allow for the tapping into the growth of the middle class in Africa to promote domestic tourism.
Kenya Airways targets flying to every African capital by 2016. Livingstone, is the third destination in Zambia that the airline flies to after Lusaka and Ndola. Out of its 60 destinations, over 40 are within the continent. “Do not ignore Africa. It is a huge economy. The day we have free travel within Africa is the day that we will reap the benefits of domestic tourism,” explained Dr Naikuni.
“The aviation industry is a good facilitator if nurtured well. We need to help the industry to grow by enhancing security and infrastructure and removing obstacles that prevent people from travelling,” he added, stating that airlines are the channels that allow tourists to move into a country.
These views have been echoed by Felix Chaila, the Managing Director of Zambia Tourism Board. “The problem in Africa’s tourism sector is that the market is too dependent on the Western market that goes to sleep in winter. In Africa there is no seasonality, and we need to tap into this market,” he said.
The Kenya Airways route between Nairobi and Livingstone is operated on a three times weekly basis via Harare International Airport in Zimbabwe. The introduction of the direct flight to the East African hub provides improved connectivity to the iconic Victoria Falls, located within the city and the route launch comes at a time Zambia is preparing to co-host the UN World Tourism Organisation with Zimbabwe.