DEPUTYMinister of Transport and Infrastructure Development Fortune Chasi has called on African countries to consider opening their skies to each other in a bid to promote continental tourism.
Most countries in Africa despite belonging to the African Union (AU) are still hostile to each other especially in the area of tourism and travel to the extent that passengers have to go through Europe in order to get connecting flights.
This connectivity issue and that of visas have been blamed for affecting and discoursing tourism within the African continent.
Speaking on the sidelines of the 1st ICAO/UNWTO Ministerial Conference on Air Transport and Tourism in Africa which is currently happening in Cape Verde and will run from 27-29th March Deputy Minister Chasi said the connectivity issues on the continent are a sad irony.
“There is need for us to make sure within Africa itself we are able to interrelate in so far as aviation is concerned to make sure that we don’t have to go to Europe in order to go to Africa.
“It’s a very sad irony, this is why we must be able to open up our skies to each other and allow tourism to flourish within Africa before we even think of the tourists outside Africa.
“44 countries have signed the Yamoussoukro Commitment and we expect and encourage others to do so and once that happens I think we will be good to go in so far as that is concerned,” he said.
Speaking that the same occasion, Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Prisca Mupfumira said she hopes that since they have attended the meeting together with the Deputy minister they will be able to collaborate on coming up with better strategies.
“We are talking about facilitation of tourism and seamless travel and the importance and role of connectivity and it’s quite topical in our country we hope, since we are participating with the Deputy Minister of Transport we will be able to come up with a strategy which makes travel into Zimbabwe better,” she said.
Minister Mupfumira also took the opportunity to highlight some changes that Zimbabwe has done in the past months with regards to VISA requirements
“In the past 18 months we have about 25 countries whom we have upgraded from Group C which means you need VISA before you come to Group B which is Visa on arrival and we hope to increase and do more to make sure that our major source markets come into our country as ease and that we are also able to introduce and support, facilitate intra Africa tourism.
Minister Mupfumira added that “there is a lot we have to offer to each other, unfortunately because of accessibility which includes VISAs we are not able to do that and we want to see a situation where eventually AU will come up one passport,” she said.
According to Minister Mupfumira, one African passport will enable Africans to benefit from “what we have, our culture, our wildlife, the forests we have and everything as Africans and yet you find people who come from very far know more about Africa than we do”.