Ethiopian Airlines will commence direct flights to Victoria Falls by March, following the commissioning of the state-of-the-art Victoria Falls International Airport which can now handle wide-bodied planes.
This was revealed at a meeting between Speaker of the National Assembly Advocate Jacob Mudenda and Ethiopian Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Mustafe Dek Abdisalam last Friday.
Mr Abdisalam had paid a courtesy call on Adv Mudenda.
Adv Mudenda said the coming in of Ethiopian Airlines was expected to enhance tourism and investment opportunities between Zimbabwe and Ethiopia.
He said the tourism sector had evolved to become a critical sector, which was contributing to the growth of the Gross Domestic Product of any country, and this included Zimbabwe.
Adv Mudenda said the meeting was an eye opener to Parliament and how it could improve its role in assisting Government in turning around economic fortunes.
“Our discussion was centred on tourism, as you are aware that the Ethiopian Airlines has been dedicated in bringing in passengers and taking out passengers from Zimbabwe,” he said.
“What we agreed is that we need to accelerate tourism development between the two countries. The ambassador indicated to me that as from the 26th of March this year, Ethiopian Airlines will be flying into Victoria Falls International Airport, from there to Gaborone and Windhoek.
“In that regard, we believe we should be able to increase tourist inflows.”
Adv Mudenda said Mr Abdisalam indicated to him that the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure Development and Ethiopian Airlines were engaging each other on how to create joint venture partnerships as a way of boosting the airline industry.
He said he was also informed on how Ethiopians had become masters of their economy by taking ownership of their land, which Zimbabwe had successfully done.
“In Ethiopia, there has been a deliberate focus to change the mindset of the people, especially when it relates to agriculture,” said Adv Mudenda. “The ambassador informed me that 85 percent of their economy is agricultural.
“In the last 25 years, they were carrying subsistence farming and that has changed. Now they are growing crops for export and not only for their domestic consumption.” The Ethiopian envoy, Adv Mudenda said, also shared notes on how Parliament could play a crucial role in spearheading democracy and peace.
“I was impressed by the establishment of an institute of public policy and democracy in their country,” said Adv Mudenda. “This institute is chaired by the Speaker of Parliament and is funded by their Government.
“The idea is to build social cohesion. This is an area where we are lacking as Zimbabwe to build a robust social cohesion between the organs of the State, business and labour, so that we share a common vision in the development of the country.”
Adv Mudenda said Mr Abdisalam had informed him that Ethiopia rakes into the country $4 billion from Diasporians as investment, which Zimbabwe should emulate. Mr Abdisalam said it was important for Zimbabwe and Ethiopia to continue cooperating in various ways.
“We had fruitful discussions around tourism considering that Zimbabwe attracts a number of tourists such that we can cooperate in various areas of interest for the growth of the tourism industry,” he said.