Brighton Gumbo Business Reporter
THE government should award more licences to low cost airlines that will ply local routes so as to boost domestic tourism, an official said.
The Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) chief executive officer, Karikoga Kaseke, believes doing so would also enhance competitiveness in the pricing of tourism services.
He said it was high time Air Zimbabwe introduced its own low cost airline for it to stand the competition.
“The government should come up with policies that open up the skies for other players who want to operate in the local routes particularly Harare and Bulawayo so as to boost domestic tourism,” said Kaseke.
“Air Zimbabwe is taking long to have its low cost airline. It has to quickly establish its cheap carrier and know how to compete in a competitive environment.”
The ZTA boss said it was time the government stops protecting the national carrier and allow other players to compete with it to enhance service delivery.
He said most travellers were now reluctant to use Air Zimbabwe as their mode of transport for domestic travels due to its delays and high fares.
“On average, 1,200 people per day are ferried by luxury coaches (buses) to Harare from Bulawayo and vice versa at a fee of $25 and the journey takes about five hours,” said Kaseke.
“But five hours to business people is a lot of time and there’s nothing they can actually do because these coaches are reliable, punctual compared to exorbitant fees and delays by Air Zimbabwe.”
ZTA has projected an increase in domestic travel by at least 150 percent by the year 2020, which will help meet the projected tourism receipts of $3 billion.
Of late, the government has noted that the domestic tourism market has untapped potential following the liberalisation of the economy in February 2009 complemented by an improved political and economic climate.
The tourism industry is one of the country’s major economic mainstays.