Calls for Kariba Airport revamp grow louder

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By James Muonwa, Mashonaland West Correspondent

KARIBA Airport is in need of urgent refurbishment in order to boost tourist arrivals in the Mashonaland West resort town, a senior government official has said.

The tourist town has lately witnessed a decline in both domestic and international tourists due to the long, arduous 280-kilometre journey that potential visitors have to travel from Harare.

Visitors travel to view the iconic Lake Kariba and the abundant wildlife.

The dilapidated airport, if revamped, tourists could opt for air travel and this can result in an increase in the number of people visiting Kariba.

Mashonaland West Provincial Affairs and Devolution minister, Mary Mliswa-Chikoka has added her voice to calls to have the facility spruced-up in order to boost tourism activities.

Speaking during the 2020 World Tourism Day celebrations held Monday in Chinhoyi, Mliswa-Chikoka said, “We need to have the Kariba (air) route. The drive is just too long. Why can’t we have someone just jumping onto an airplane, and next they are in Kariba?”

Tourism minister Nqobizitha Mangaliso Ndlovu concurred.

Players in the tourism and hospitality sector have for long been clamouring for the revival of Kariba Airport to give visitors an option, which arguably would result in increased tourist arrivals.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) has repeatedly tinkered with plans to refurbish the facility saying its undesirable location was making renovation works impossible.

The airport is situated between a gorge and high-voltage electricity pylons on either side of the 13-kilometre runway.

There are plans to construct a new international terminal at Charamba.

Meanwhile, Mliswa-Chikoka challenged tourism and hospitality players to introduce new water sports and build a theme park around Lake Kariba to diversify activities that tourists can enjoy in the resort town.

Kariba yearly hosts the internationally-acclaimed Kariba Tiger Fish Tournament, which attracts domestic and international tourists.