UK tour operators poised to sell Zimbabwe

UK operators are poised to start selling Zimbabwe again – on the proviso that this week’s power sharing deal is upheld.

Prior to its 2000 presidential election, the beleaguered southern African country boasted a strong tourism industry. It has since ground to a halt; what foreign visitors remain tend to cross over from Zambia to see the Victoria Falls.

But Africa specialists have been monitoring the situation and several are keen to return.

Okavango Tours made its last booking to Victoria Falls two years ago, but managing director Jane Durham was optimistic about the current situation. “We’ve heard good things from ground handlers out there and we will promote it if we think the time is right,” she said.

Rainbow Holidays managing director Roger Diski agreed. “We’ll take a view on it in a couple of weeks but we are looking forward to going back. We took 25% of our bookings in Zimbabwe before the 2000 elections.”

Diski said Victoria Falls would most likely lead any programme, but is interested to see what state national parks such as Hwange are in. High incidents of poaching have been reported across the country.

Expert Africa has continued to offer Zimbabwe throughout the troubles, but only averages up to four bookings a year. Managing director Chris McIntyre said the success of the new agreement would depend on how much power Robert Mugabe retains. “We could be a step or two away from the end game but when the public believes Mugabe is gone, we will see a rapid bounce for safari business. When it does, we’ll be first in line to snap it up.”

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