A private sector arm of the World Bank will help Zimbabwe and the private sector to attract more airlines and flights to Victoria Falls in a major boost for the revival of the tourism sector.
The support by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) is part of a broader, multi-year tourism programme between IFC and Zimbabwe—the Zimbabwe Destination Development Programme—designed to revitalise and increase the competitiveness of the country’s tourism industry.
The support comes as the tourism sector is rebooting as Covid-19 travel restrictions ease ad vaccination is accelerating.
“A strategic air service development effort is needed to drive recovery from the ongoing Covid-19 crisis and ensure longer-term growth for Victoria Falls as a regional hub,” said Theodius Chinyanga, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development.
Victoria Falls is Zimbabwe’s main tourism hub and supports around 25,000 direct jobs. Travel restrictions imposed due to the Covid-19 pandemic collapsed global tourism and forced businesses in the Victoria Falls area to retrench thousands of employees.
The government’s prioritisation of vaccines for tourism workers at Victoria Falls is expected to put the destination in a privileged position to lure airlines, tourists, and revenues.
Airports Company of Zimbabwe acting CEO Tawanda Gusha said: “The time is right to expand our network to ensure the destination can grow its position as a gateway to the country and the wider region. This is in line with our strategic thrust of developing Victoria Falls as a regional tourism hub.”
Adamou Labara, IFC’s Country Manager for Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe said Victoria Falls can become a truly competitive tourism entry point for the region, with the right support.
“Establishing this position in the market will help drive tourism through Zimbabwe and support recovery and jobs,” Labara said.
A member of the World Bank Group, IFC is the largest global development institution focused on the private sector in emerging markets.
Last year, IFC invested US$22bn in private companies and financial institutions in developing countries, leveraging the power of the private sector to end extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity.