12 November 2012

Zambia: Tourism Must Hit Apex in 2013

THE tourism sector is set to contribute significantly to the transformation of Zambia's economic terrain as the country focuses on sustainable growth to meet specific development targets.

As the country makes progress towards diversification from mining, tourism is among top-notch sectors which are on the rebuilding list along with agriculture, manufacturing, and construction industries.

Apart from diversifying and expanding the economy, the Government has projected to sustain single-digit inflation, increase productive employment, and improve overall investment inflows, through priority sectors.

The Government has thus documented salient economic targets in the 2013 Budget for tourism particularly that the country will next year co-host the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) General Assembly with Zimbabwe.

Of course, the prime focus in the 2013 Budget is poverty eradication, and creation of more employment opportunities through priority sectors.

Zambia has to accelerate diversification and particularly develop infrastructure in transport, communication and energy sectors.

In realising these goals, Zambia needs a forthright economic agenda able to attract investment not only dealing in primary goods, but also in finished products and services.

It is important therefore that the citizens as major stakeholders digest set targets including macroeconomic figures and not just dismissing them as mere rhetoric or lip-service from economic players.

It is these same macroeconomic targets that citizens could use as yardstick to measure success or failure and not arguing from an ignorant viewpoint.

In the services sector, it is tourism that holds the key for the Government to realise its vision and specific economic targets.

Therefore, news from London that Zambia has received overwhelming response from prospecting tourists and tour operators after concluding the 2012 World Travel Market (WTM) expo is gratifying.

WTM came to an end on Saturday with industry players calling on governments to institute reforms in the visa processing systems in order to reduce encumbrances in global tourism.

Press Secretary at the Zambian High Commission in the United Kingdom, Amos Chanda said most tour operators who visited the Zambia Tourism Board (ZTB) stand expressed interest in the Zambian tourism brand.

The expo was held at the Excel Centre in London where the Zambian delegation was led by Tourism and Arts Deputy Minister David Phiri.

In tourism, Zambia has natural as well as artificial spots, wildlife, and other attractive packages, which if well harnessed, could push national economic fortunes to higher and sustainable levels like other successful nations whose economies are driven by a well-nurtured tourism sector.

One of the prime factors identified in terms of selling tourism products abroad, is the need to aggressively market all the attractive spots, fauna and flora to realise the target of increasing inflows to over two million tourists by the end of the year.

The figure is projected to increase to 3.5 million tourist inflow per annum by 2015.

The Zambia Tourist Board (ZTB) and the Tourism Council of Zambia (TCZ) need to upscale their operations to remain on course as preparations for the UNWTO reach top-gear.

The country therefore has the potential to reach the global apex in terms of tourism development and this should be showcased during the UNWTO next year.

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