THE Zambia Tourism Board (ZTB) and other players should aggressively market domestic tourism to maximise the market potential which has long been underplayed.
Information, Broadcasting and Tourism Minister Given Lubinda said it was imperative for the country to give due attention to tourism development for the country's economy to grow sustainably.
The minister was speaking during the launch of the domestic tourism promotion campaign at the Copperbelt and North-Western provinces roadshow in Kitwe yesterday.
Mr Lubinda said domestic tourism was the backbone of tourism development of most developed tourism destinations.
Much attention had been given to international tourists when the local ones had also the potential to contribute to national development. The Government, he said, wanted sector players to aggressively carry out the country's tourism marketing activities locally in order to tap from the domestic market whose potential has been underplayed.
"As most of you may be aware, the tourism industry is susceptible to various turbulences from time to time such as the global economic crunch experienced in 2008 and part of 2009 among many others.
"During such adversities, international travel tends to slow down and most countries such as Zambia usually experience a slump in tourist arrivals," Mr Lubinda said.
The minister said apart from serving as a buffet during shock periods,domestic tourism also serves as a precursor to international tourism.
Mr Lubinda said the Government has ranked tourism as one of the key driversof national development. He said the hallmark of this was to position Zambia as a destination of choice for tourists both locally and abroad.
"For this reason, the task of promoting tourism rests on the shoulders of everyone, be it tourism enterprises and individuals alike," he said.
Mr Lubinda said working in isolation was costly, and it was for this reason that the Government wanted to work in tandem to market the sector creatively and price it competitively.
"As we market this vital industry, let us apply our minds to creative and innovative, ways to get Zambians to travel, expose them to our tourism attractions, and build a generation of tourists that will carry us into the next decade," he said.
ZTB executive director Felix Chaila said one of the objectives of the roadshows was to stimulate domestic tourism on the Copperbelt and North-Western Provinces by encouraging people to visit tourist attraction sites.
Mr Chaila said roadshows were among the most effective tools in tourism promotion which were conducted in London recently. Kitwe Mayor Chileshe Bweupe commended ZTB for embarking on the programming aimed at promoting domestic tourism.
Mr Bweupe said tourism in the country had been perceived as an activity for foreigners only.