A new airline has entered the Kariba route with three scheduled flights a week, bringing low-cost connectivity between the tourism destination and major source markets including Harare and Victoria Falls.
This dovetails with the Government’s desire to improve tourism in the Kariba region which started in 2019 culminating in the establishment of the Kariba Tourism Development Plan.
Improved accessibility was identified as one of the key ingredients for tourism revival in the town which used to see more than 14 000 people passing through the Kariba Airport at its peak in 1999, declining to around 3000 in recent years.
Time-consuming travel by road and the lack of cheaper flights to Kariba have been cited as major impediments to the destination’s growth. It leaves little time for activities.
Kuva Airline was launched today amid pomp and fanfare with hopes that the development would solve one of Kariba’s bottlenecks for growth, accessibility.
Tour operators and residents alike welcomed the new player pledging to support the initiative as it had the potential to grow the town’s economy.
Speaking after touchdown at Kariba Airport, Kuva Airline managing director Mr Stewart Dunlop said the airline wanted to grow with the destination.
“The hassle of getting in and out of Kariba was the inspiration behind setting up the airline,” said Mr Dunlop.
“Yes, the risk is there but I believe that Zimbabwe’s best-kept secret, Kariba, has the demand and we hope everything works out.”
Kuva officials and Kariba tourism players at the welcome ceremony today. Kuva Airline marketing executive Mr Darryl Dzapasi said the airline would link Harare, Kariba, Victoria Falls and Hwange on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays starting on June 1.
Kariba Airport manager Mr Shupikayi Maramwidze said Kariba Airport was the hub for connectivity and accessibility to areas such as Mana Pools and Matusadonha National Park.
“The airport and scheduled flights mean that smaller chartered aircraft can fly to areas such as Mana Pools and the entire Zambezi Valley,” said Mr Maramwidze.
Representing tourism players in Kariba, Mr Quinten De Lange, said the introduction of a scheduled flight was a key step in reviving Kariba as a tourism destination.“As tourism players and Government, it was discovered that a scheduled flight to Kariba ensured easy access to the greater Kariba area including Mana Pools and the Lower Zambezi where there are several tourism facilities that can be accessed through smaller chartered aircraft,” said Mr De Lange.
Operator Mr Cephas Shonhiwa said the new airline gives impetus to tourism growth in the Kariba region.
“There are a few things that need to be addressed, but overall this is one of the best things to ever happen to Kariba in a while,” said Mr Shonhiwa.“The aircraft is the right size for now because other initiatives failed before because the aircraft were bigger when demand was low.”