By Daniel Chigundu
PROPORTIONAL Representation legislator Lucia Chitura has called on the government to consider constructing a modern airport in Manicaland Province as a way of enhancing tourism in the area.
Manicaland boasts of various tourist attraction sites and facilities but is not able to attract enough foreign tourists owing to transportation issues as the province mainly depends on road and a few small airports which cannot handle long-haul aircraft.
Speaking in the National Assembly, Honourable Chitura said tourists should be able to land in Manicaland directly and not in Harare or other places.
“The President put some emphasis on tourism. As soon as you get to Christmas Pass (Mutare) you will know that you are in a tourist land. We are appealing to the government to construct a modern airport which can take widebody aircraft so that if you have any tourists who will come from abroad, instead of landing in Harare and come by other planes, they should land directly from Europe to our place,” she said.
Honourable Chitura added that there is so much in Manicaland in terms of tourism but the only bottleneck is the unavailability of an airport that will see international airlines landing in the province directly.
“We also have some programs which can be used to attract these tourists such as the Hot Springs and the Bridal Falls. If you want to go and see some of the wonders of Zimbabwe, please visit these areas and you will know that definitely, Zimbabwe is a tourist country.
“We also have some of these attractions in Chimanimani, but the key to everything is the construction of an airport,” she said.
Modern airports are critical for tourism as they enable long-haul aircraft to land and government has already renovated the Victoria Falls Airport into an international airport and the move has begun to yield results.
Speaking on the same issues Mutasa North legislator Chido Madiwa concurred with Chitura that a visit to Manicaland will leave one with a memorable experience.
“My constituency extends from the eastern border of Zimbabwe into Mozambique. The valley is formed as part of the Eastern Highlands mountain range. Any visitor into Mutare North Constituency will always emerge a proud Zimbabwean citizen equipped with new knowledge on how rich our nation is.
“A visit to Mutasa North Constituency will leave one with a lifetime experience as you find yourself negotiating sharp curves, up-hills and down-hills as you mingle through the interlocking spurs, inselbergs, escarpments and pedestals that characterise the area.
“In the course of executing this amazing process, you simultaneously enjoy the delightful view of the superb scenery of the spectacular terrain and fresh environment,” she said.
According to Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) chief executive Dr Karikoga Kaseke they are working to ensure that attention is not focussed in one area.
There have previously been complains that ZTA is giving much attention to Victoria Falls at the expense of other areas, but the ZTA boss disputed the claims saying Victoria Falls was a self-selling destination and was selling itself as a UNESCO designated World Heritage site.-