THE Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe (HAZ) Manicaland chapter has called on the government to transform the military-owned Grand Reef Airport into an international commercial airport to make the province accessible to international tourists.
BY CLAYTON MASEKESA
HAZ Manicaland chapter chairman Clive Chinwada yesterday told NewsDay that the province required a commercial airport to boost tourist arrivals through direct flights.
“A commercial airport is the missing gateway into Manicaland to stimulate economic activity through direct flights connectivity,” he said.
“Direct flights to Mutare are key to press on the tourism multi-destination approach that the Ministry of Tourism and Hospitality Industry has been advocating for.”
Other resort centres such as Victoria Falls, Masvingo (Great Zimbabwe) and Kariba have commercial airports which make them easily accessible to tourists.
“There is great need for easy connectivity to draw international tourists that do not like driving long distances. Without direct flights to Mutare, tourism in the Eastern Highlands will remain stagnant,” Chinwada said.
Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) chief executive officer Karikoga Kaseke pledged to take the matter up with the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe.
He said ZTA was working round the clock to ensure that Zimbabwe would reclaim its status as the best tourism destination in Africa and regain its foothold in the traditional market of Europe and North America.
Grand Reef Airport is situated 20km west of Mutare and has room for expansion of key infrastructure required for an international airport.
These include a cold chain management system, hangars, warehouses, immigration, customs clearance and flight training.
Meanwhile, business groups in Manicaland have started lobbying for Mutare to be considered among urban centres earmarked for Zimbabwe Special Economic Zones status.