Govt sees need to grow aviation industry

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—Government says it attaches great
importance to the growth of the aviation industry because it has
direct bearing on the growth of the tourism sector.

Speaking last night during a cock tail party to mark the Kenya
Airways’ inaugural direct flight to Livingstone, Tourism and Arts
Minister, Sylvia Masebo, said the Patriotic Front (PF) government
recognizes the important role the aviation industry plays in the
growth of tourism.

She added that this was the reason the government has plans to set
up a national airline to help in the growth of the sector in the country
and create more job opportunities.

However, Ms Masebo pointed out that connectivity even amongst African
countries was a major hindrance to the growth of the tourism sector.

Ms Masebo said it was sad that air connectivity even within African
countries was a big problem which has lead to the sluggish growth of
the tourism sector in most countries.

“It is very sad that even within Africa connectivity has become a big
barrier to the development of domestic tourism on the continent and we
need to change this scenario,” she said.

She praised the Kenya Airways for initiating a direct flight
from Nairobi to Livingstone, adding that the gesture will significantly
boost tourist arrivals to Zambia during and after the United Nations
World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) General Assembly.

And Kenya Airways Chief Executive Officer, Titus Naikuni, said the
company’s aim was to support sustainable development through the
promotion of tourism.

Dr Naikuni said the airline has received a lot of support from the
Zambian government and hence will continue to support its effort to
reinvigorate the tourism sector to ensure sustainable development.

“We have been longing to tap into the Livingstone market and with the
support we have received from the government we shall take the Zambia
market seriously in order to enhance sustainable development in the
country and Africa as a whole,” said Dr Naikuni.

He also revealed that the airline intends to revamp the exchange and education
support programmes as part of its social responsibilities.

Dr Naikuni further called on African governments to invest in tourism
and support airlines if the sector was to significantly contribute to
the Gross Domestic Products (GDP) of African countries.

“I want to urge African governments not to overlook the aviation
industry as they invest in the tourism sector,” he said.

And Zambia Tourism Board (ZTB) Managing Director, Felix Chaila, said the
direct flight between Nairobi and Livingstone was a dream come true.

He noted that air connectivity was key to sustainable tourism
development, adding that ZTB will also focus its attention in tapping
Africa market in order to enhance growth of the sector.

“We are busy looking for tourism market outside the continent which
are seasonal and neglecting our own market here in Africa”, said Mr