MINISTER of Tourism and Arts Sylvia Masebo (centre) with Kenya Airways chief executive officer Titus Naikuni (left) and KLM Air France commercial director for Eastern Africa Yoram Franzen (right) cutting a cake during the launch of Kenya Airways flights into Livingstone yesterday.- Picture by NANCY MWAPE.
By NANCY MWAPE
GOVERNMENT says limited air connectivity has continued to present major barriers to the growth of the travel and tourism industry in the country.
Minister of Tourism and Arts Sylvia Masebo says Government attaches great importance to the aviation industry as it has a direct bearing on tourism. Ms Masebo said this in Livingstone on Thursday night during a cocktail party for the Kenya Airways inaugural flight to Livingstone.
The minister said the launch of Kenya Airways flights into the tourist capital is a big step in boosting tourist inflows in the tourist capital.
“Zambia and Zimbabwe are co-hosting the UNWTO general assembly and one of the challenges is how to quickly fly so many delegates into Livingstone, considering that we don’t have many direct flights into the city,” she said.
Ms Masebo said the launch of Kenya Airways flights into Livingstone is key, taking into account the number of routes the airline has globally.
She said the government has prioritised infrastructure development to boost tourism in Zambia.
And Kenya Airways chief executive officer Titus Naikuni said the launch of the Livingstone route demonstrates how seriously the airline takes Zambia as a destination.
“One of our key goals is to create sustainable air transport in Africa. The airline is a tough industry but a good facilitator if nurtured well. We need infrastructure, security and facilitation in terms of making sure that we do not put in obstacles that stop people from visiting our countries,” he said.
Speaking at the same function, Kenya’s High Commissioner to Zambia Ruthie Rono said the Livingstone route will provide a means through which people can interact and share cultures.
“As Africans, we need to appreciate the gem that we have and use our resources and ability to develop it to the benefit of our people,” she said.
Earlier, Zambia Tourism Board chief executive officer Felix Chaila said an increased number of major airlines have introduced flights into Lusaka, mainly because of the good performance of the country’s economy.
“KQ launching the Livingstone route means that we can now reach the Far East and the Indian market,” he said.
Mr Chaila said there is need for African tourism boards to work together to capture the emerging business opportunities.