THE reopening of the Harry Mwaanga International Airport will help improve local tourism, says Livingstone Tourism Association (LTA) president Rodney Sikumba.
And Sikumba says COVID-19 has had a very devastating effect on tourism and lives of workers in the sector.
Reacting to President Edgar Lungu’s directives that all the international airports that had been closed reopen with immediate, Sikumba said the LTA had always been engaging the Ministry of Tourism with regards the reopening of the airport so as to boost tourism.
“The reopening is a good step in the right direction and it will help attract domestic flights by Pro-flight and Mahogany into Livingstone, which will see an improvement in domestic tourism. This will greatly help Zambians to visit the Victoria Falls because these are the last few months where it is at its peak. The reopening of HMNIA will also help decongest the roads,” Sikumba said.
He added that the reopening of the airport would also lead to increased charter flights in and out of Livingstone.
“The effects of COVID-19 on the sector and our brothers and sisters has been very devastating as we did not plan for it. We also have a culture that is well known for not saving, so the effects on our brothers and sisters have been very bad because some of them had debts and bank loans. We hope with the reopening of the HMNIA many of them will be reengaged as some were laid off. It is my wish and that of the LTA to see how best we can cope,” he said.
Sikumba added that associations, organisations, clubs and trade unions would also have an opportunity to now hold meetings as most of them have had their mandates expire.
Sikumba also urged the Livingstone City Council to revise its directives on social gatherings as long as people adhere to the laid down health guidelines saying that: “As President Edgar Lungu has said life has to go on.”