As a growing number of airlines launch new routes into Victoria Falls, never has this Natural Wonder of the World and its surrounds been easier to get to, heralding a golden age of tourism for the region, leading tourism operator Ross Kennedy says.
The Lufthansa Group leisure carrier Eurowings Discover will launch flights three times a week from Frankfurt, Germany via Windhoek, Namibia into Victoria Falls on 30 March. In addition, Lufthansa has received regulatory approval to fly regional passengers on the Windhoek – Victoria Falls route.
This comes after Fastjet launched direct flights linking the iconic holiday destinations of Victoria Falls and Kruger National Park, South Africa, earlier this month, with the carrier also set to fly between the world’s largest waterfall and Maun, Botswana, gateway to the Okavango Delta, from June 30.
Mack Air is already servicing the routes between Victoria Falls and both Kasane and Maun in Botswana, and from April 1 will add flights to Hwange and surrounds to its schedule.
These routes are in addition to Ethiopian Airlines already flying into Victoria Falls from Addis Ababa; Fastjet, daily from Johannesburg and Harare; British Airways (operated by Comair) from Johannesburg and Kenya Airways from Nairobi and onto Cape Town. SA Airlink also services the Victoria Falls – Cape Town route, while Air Zimbabwe links Harare and Bulawayo with the tourist attraction.
Kennedy, chief executive of Africa Albida Tourism, said several other airlines were also showing an interest in flying into Victoria Falls, with some currently in talks with the relevant local authorities.
“There’s talk of new commercial operators in the Zimbabwe airspace, so increasingly allowing flexibility, choice and of course competition,” Kennedy said.
“The impact on tourism not only in Victoria Falls and the rest of Zimbabwe, but on the region, cannot and should not be underestimated given the importance of the air access that is now happening,” Kennedy said.
“Having an airline committed to a destination and region as Lufthansa has shown with Africa, and Southern Africa in particular, really makes a huge impact on the future of tourism,” he said.
“The positivity this brings is immense, and the investment that went into the new Victoria Falls airport needs to be recognised. Seeing the airlines coming in now and others in talks with authorities is further endorsement of the importance of Victoria Falls as a tourism hub in the region.”
While long haul access was important for Victoria Falls and beyond, regional linkages able to move those passengers around easily, quickly and economically all formed a vital part of the cogs that make tourism work, he said.
The game changer was the construction of the Victoria Falls International Airport in 2016, which features a 4km runway capable of landing some of the world’s largest aircraft, and able to handle 1.5 million passengers per annum, more than tripling its previous capacity.
Victoria Falls, located in the middle of Southern Africa, is expected to become a gateway to the largely under exposed Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA), also known as Africa’s Eden, which spans five countries (Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe), and contains some of the most pristine and diverse wildlife areas left on the planet.
Africa Albida Tourism operates a portfolio of properties in Victoria Falls, namely Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, Victoria Falls Safari Club, Victoria Falls Safari Suites, Lokuthula Lodges and The Boma – Dinner & Drum Show.