The Zimbabwe Government is targeting a three prong strategy to boost tourism numbers into the country and this includes looking to emerging economies such as China and India. In an exclusive interview with The HUB Daily at Routes Africa in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe this week Honourable Engineer Walter Mzembi (MP), Minister of Tourism and Hospitality confirmed this move could see Air Zimbabwe return to China, with flights to both Beijing and Shanghai.
Alongside targeting the large diasporas that left the country almost a decade ago and its strongest markets of Europe and North America, Zimbabwe’s growth strategy will be underpinned by forays into markets such as China and India. “We are beginning to review the visa regime between us and these countries and also to include connectivity,” he explained.
“Air Zimbabwe used to fly into Beijing. When it comes back [into long-haul markets] and comes back shortly on the back of this conference [Routes Africa] and other initiatives we are discussing, it shall be going to Shanghai and Beijing,” he added.
According to the Minister any strategy will not be about mass tourism but will focus on the high spenders in the Chinese market and likewise in India. “The Chinese in the last year were the highest spenders in the world at $140 billion with 98 million of them going outbound out of China,” he said.
But, these visitors are not currently coming to Zimbabwe with the southern African country reporting the lowest level of arrivals of any sub-Sahara nation last year. “We are now getting whey we have this problem and destination accessibility is coming out as the chief mischief for that dismal performance,” said Honourable Engineer Walter Mzembi. “We are reviewing destination access and interconnectivity. We are reviewing taxation on travel to make sure the destination becomes competitive.”
Air Zimbabwe served the Chinese market between November 2004 and April 2012 via other points in Asia. The link to Beijing was initially flown on a twice weekly basis via Singapore Changi International Airport but was switched to operate on a weekly basis via Kuala Lumpur International Airport in February 2010.
In our analysis, below, we look, in greater detail at bi-directional O&D demand between China and Zimbabwe over the last ten years and how it compares with passenger flows between China and both South Africa and Zambia.