Welcome to our skies Qatar Airways

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QATAR Airways, the State-owned flag carrier of the Qatar will make its inaugural flight into Zimbabwe today which will be a boost for the country’s economy, particularly the tourism sector that has been battered by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This is because it has more than 130 destinations on the map everyday, with a fleet of the latest-generation aircraft of approximately 205 aircraft, according to its website.

Also, having a reputable airline with a solid track record of safety that was just named “Airline of the Year 2021” by Airline Ratings, a leading airline safety and product rating review website, will go a long way in mending the country’s image which has taken a hammering for more than two decades by countries that accuse it of human rights abuses. This comes soon after the return of Emirates and German airline Lufthansa.

We believe the government should seize this opportunity and capitalise on this development.

Government should also consider tax concessions to make sure that Zimbabwe sheds its persona of being a highly taxed nation if this has not been done already. These concessions should not just be accorded to the airline, but to locals too who use the airline’s services.

Government should also ensure the ongoing national tourism campaigns promoting the country are leveraged on the arrival of such an esteemed airline.

Qatar Airways’ arrival should help facelift the image of the country and for this to happen, government should do everything in its power to ensure that those who wish to visit the country do so with ease.

Zimbabwe Investment Development Agency (Zida) boss Douglas Munatsi told delegates at the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Zimbabwe winter school that there are still significant challenges in paying taxes, enforcing contracts, getting electricity connected and in protecting investor rights.

“There are still  perceptions and realities that suggest we are not doing  as well as we should,” he said,

The coming of various airlines from all over the world to the country’s airports will be negated by the failure by the government to inspire confidence in investors through concrete structural reforms particularly around the issue of property rights which continue to be a major challenge.

Government must show seriousness in addressing concerns of investors for the country to fully benefit from the reintroduction of such airlines.

It is time to cut red tape. The elephant in the room is the too many pieces of legislation which creates fiefdoms for those administering them and thus curtail progress in approving new business into Zimbabwe. Zida should house everything to jump-start the economy please.

The ball is in our court. It’s now or never!