The 9th Routes Africa, the largest route development event in Africa, will open this weekend in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. The event will bring together the leading airports, airlines, tourism authorities, policy-makers and aviation stakeholders to develop new air services to, from and within Africa. Hosted by the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe, Routes Africa 2014 will take place at the Elephant Hills Hotel and Resort 22-24 June.
Over 350 delegates are expected to attend the event representing 40 leading airlines, 50 airports and 15 tourism authorities. Africa’s three main airlines, Kenya Airways, South African Airways and Ethiopian Airlines, are joined by two of the big Gulf carriers (Emirates and Etihad Airways) and global carriers such as British Airways, Iberia Airlines and Condor Airlines who are looking into expanding their network to the continent. Low cost carriers, which are increasingly shaping the face of aviation in Africa, will also be out in force with registrations received from pan-African low-cost carrier Fastjet as well as Comair, Fly540 and start-up carrier FlyAfrica.com.
Honourable Engineer Walter Mzembi (MP), Minister of Tourism and Hospitality, Zimbabwe, commented: “From the theatre of travel, Tourism is about movement of people, and herein lies the critical importance of conferences such as Routes Africa 2014 taking place in this historical town of Victoria Falls, one of the Seven Wonders of the World. It is with great honour that my country Zimbabwe was recently bestowed with the World Best Tourism Destination and the Favourite Cultural Destination for 2014 by the European Council on Tourism and Trade, being the first such award for an African country. It is abundantly clear that Africa needs to gain mileage in the sphere of physical travel as well as administratively facilitating travel. Air connectivity is the umbilical cord that links tourism destinations and its source markets. As we look at Travel Tourism with new eyes, let us, at the regional and continental levels, stay connected, focused on cooperation, value addition and super service in order for our beloved continent Africa, to grow its share of the global tourism market. It is not a coincidence that Routes Africa 2014 is focusing on air connectivity issues as one of the strategic ‘gates’ in boosting tourism.”
The Chief Executive of the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority, Mr Karikoga Kaseke, expressed joy on the occasion of hosting the 2014 Routes Africa in Zimbabwe. “We are extremely happy that this strategic conference has come to Zimbabwe, at a time when the issue of the accessibility of regional destinations is topical,” said Kaseke, continuing: “As we continue to host more conferences in Zimbabwe, this one is unique in that it focuses on airline routes development in Africa and we hope it will help address the access challenges that usually affect all destinations on our continent. Tourism development in Africa will only move forward when we foster regional packages. It is my sincere hope that all Tourism Boards present at this conference will see the importance of partnerships with the aviation industry and beyond.”
Katie Bland, Director Routes for UBM Live said: “Africa is one of the most dynamic and exciting aviation markets in the world right now. The continent might well become the most important geographic part of the world over the next 100 years, which is why African airlines are getting stronger and stronger, and carriers from all over the world are increasingly tapping the African market. The decisions taken at Routes Africa will be decisive in shaping the future of aviation in Africa for years to come.”
One of the highlights of the event will be the Routes Africa Strategy Summit which, taking place over two days, will open the event on Sunday 22nd June. Attendees will hear from a number of high-level speakers, including Honourable Engineer Walter Mzembi (MP), Minister of Tourism and Hospitality, Zimbabwe, Minister Fernando Maquengo, Minister of Transport and Public Works, Sao Tome and Principe, Dr. Elijah Chingosho, Secretary General of AFRAA, Raphael Kuuchi, IATA’s Vice President for Africa, Edmund Makona, Acting CEO, Air Zimbabwe, Christophe Allard, CEO, Korongo Airlines, Saxen van Coller, CEO, Dube TradePort Corporation and Richard Bodin, Chief Commercial Officer of Fastjet.