Statement by Ada Magezi, Country Manager for Zimbabwe of Rwandair, at the media briefing.

Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen.

Welcome to this media briefing, which we have called in order for our colleagues in the media to meet with, and hear from, a group of 10 travel agents from Uganda.

This visit was hosted by Rwandair and was part of our ongoing efforts to create greater interest in business and leisure travel to Zimbabwe from East Africa. We identified a group of travel agents whom we felt would be interested in, and benefit from, a visit to Harare, which is a destination Rwandair has serviced for about 18 months.

Airlines are the foundation of the travel and tourism sector, as they provide the means by which travellers can visit destinations, especially those far from their points of origin. Not only do we provide the air transport that carries passengers across the world, but we also engage in a great deal of destination marketing in order to highlight our routes and to encourage traffic on those services which we provide.

We have been pleased with the levels of business on Rwandair services to Zimbabwe to date and we are hopeful of sustained business and increased levels of support in coming months and years. We are very much part of the effort to increase the levels of business and leisure tourism into Zimbabwe, and it is our hope that the growth in interest in this destination will maintain its upward momentum during 2019 and beyond.

Rwandair is one of Africa’s fastest-growing airlines, and we now service 22 destinations in Africa and four more across the world within our route network. We know that Africa’s potential as a travel and tourism destination is enormous and we are ready to, and capable of, playing a meaningful role in helping the continent to realise this potential.

Rwandair has four scheduled services between Kigali and Harare each week, and it is our hope to increase these as and when the need arises. We are keen to stimulate growth in traffic into Harare, and we hope that such growth will come from a wide range of source markets around the world. We have been especially keen to increase the level of traffic into Harare from East Africa, where there are a large number of nationals and expatriates who wish to visit other parts of Africa, and for whom Zimbabwe is an appealing destination.

We know that Victoria Falls is the country’s premier tourist attraction, and it is to there that most tourists travel. But we also wish to see tourists undertaking visits to all the other wonderful attractions across Zimbabwe, from Hwange and Lake Kariba to Mana Pools and the Eastern Highlands, and from Great Zimbabwe and the Lowveld to Bulawayo and the Matobo Hills, as well as all the other places that offer such interest and excitement to visitors.

The group we have brought from Uganda this weekend has been exposed to just some of the range of activities available to visitors who choose to include Harare in their itineraries. Far too many people regard Harare only as a stopover while heading off elsewhere around the country, and we wish to see people take advantage of the many attractions here for them. Accordingly, our visitors have been around the city and its suburbs, and they have also visited Imire Game Park near Marondera and Bushman Rock Estate just to the east of Harare. We would like to have shown them even more but time did not permit us to do so, but one thing they do know is that this city offers visitors a wealth of interest and activity for enjoyment while here.

We have partnered with Meikles Hotel in this visit and we are delighted that our guests have been able to experience the five-star enjoyment offered at this hotel, with its 103 years of tradition and experience, and its modern and exciting range of services, facilities and amenities in the heart of ‘the city that never sleeps.’

Some of you may ask why we have brought the visitors to Harare at this time, when there has been a measure of socio-economic and political unrest. The answer is very simple: what we have discovered is that all Zimbabweans, irrespective of their affiliations and beliefs, love tourists, and they consistently invite them to enjoy this country and they offer all visitors the warmest of welcomes. And we all recognise the importance to Zimbabwe’s economy of travel and tourism, which yields the much-need foreign income that buys everything from fuel and wheat to power and medicines, all of which are needed by the hospitable people of Zimbabwe.

We know the potential for growth in tourist arrivals in Zimbabwe is huge and we at Rwandair are delighted to be part of the process of realising that potential and in helping give easy, affordable access to this destination to visitors from elsewhere in Africa, as well as from the rest of the world.

Thank you.