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Global air passenger carrier, Turkish Airlines’ plan to introduce flights into Zimbabwean destinations are still on track and Harare’s diplomats deployed to that country in 2019 are confident the giant will service the Ankara-Harare route before December.

There are also indications the airline could also fly to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe’s premier holiday destination, helping the country diversify tourism source markets to rebuild an industry that has been dislocated by pandemic headwinds.

In the past eight years, Zimbabwe has been courting the airline to introduce flights into Harare and Victoria Falls after laying out a blueprint to rebuild its tourism industry into one of the nerve centres driving economic recovery.

The industry has struggled to recover from a blitz of bad publicity since the country relapsed into an economic and political crisis at the turn of the century, which dampened global tourists’ appetite.

Prospects for growth briefly emerged when President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced his re-engagement plan in 2017, but this was dealt a blow by the Covid–19 outbreak in 2020.

The outbreak forced airlines to ground jets in a worldwide fight to prevent contagion.

Pandemic curbs are being lifted across markets, and Alfred Mutiwazuka, Zimbabwe’s ambassador to Turkey, says among his top priorities is to convince the global carrier to kick start direct flights.

In an interview with businessdigest in Istanbul, Turkey, last week, Mutiwazuka said direct flights would also be critical in bolstering trade between the two countries, whose diplomatic ties have strengthened since Zimbabwe set up its first embassy in 2019.

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