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Hotels offer free accommodation for stranded tourists

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HOTEL operators in Victoria Falls reportedly provided free accommodation to hundreds of tourists left stranded at the weekend following the last-minute cancellation of their flights following a rift between Air Zimbabwe and South Africa Airways over non-payment of permit fees.

By Nokuthaba Dlamini

Hundreds of passengers that were booked on British and South African Airways flights out of Victoria Falls, Bulawayo and Harare airports failed to travel as scheduled on Saturday after their flights were cancelled by the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe.

Employers’ Association for Tourism and Safari Operations president, Clement Mukwasi told Southern Eye yesterday that they had to come up with quick solutions for their clients despite non-communication from the aviation industry.

“After the development, plans were immediately put in place in hotels and lodges. Tourists were taken to Zambia where they flew out, with different aviation companies that are accredited to land in Livingstone, but, however, not everyone had such a privilege because of space in flights,” he said.

“Others who were booked in hotels that they were staying in, extended their holiday pending the resolution of the problem and they are there up to now.

“In the aviation industry, if you fail to fly out your client, you pay for them, so there is no prejudice on the part of the tourists to the extent I know.”

Mukwasi added: “It’s an inconvenience, which we frown upon as an industry. However, we urge Transport ministers of both countries to quickly resolve the matter otherwise the damage to the business may be irreparable. As we speak some of the clients have cancelled their bookings stating that they feared being stranded in a foreign land.”

Yesterday, normal flights between the two countries resumed following resolution of the impasse.

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