3 January 2013

Zambia: '2012 Bad Year for Tourism'

THE tourism sector recorded dismal performance last year and failed to attract the targeted one million tourists while its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) contribution was below par, the Tourism Council of Zambia (TCZ) has said.

The TCZ said the sector attracted about 800,000 tourists as opposed to the one-million target for the year.

TCZ chairperson Felix Mulenga said the failure in 2012 could be attributed to as it failed to critical changes in the economy.

He said little was achieved in terms of contribution to the country's GDP considering that the council wants the sector to be contributing up to $500 million income per year.

Mr Mulenga said in an interview that the council was concerned that the industry was still struggling with about 800,000 visitors coming into the country per year.

"We expected about a million visitors in 2012, but we only received about 800,000 of the critical changes in the economy, the SI 33 and the minimum wage among others which made tourism operators slow down on their businesses," Mr Mulenga said.

He said that the industry did not grow in 2012 because most investors held on to their investment because they were not sure of what would become of the investment due to change of Government.

Mr Mulenga said another contributing factor to the sector's poor performance in 2012 was that of taxation which he said was on a higher side in Zambia as compared to other countries in the region.

He advised the government to make drastic measures and reduce the cost of doing business in Zambia and make the prices of goods and services competitive, a situation which would result to more visitors coming into the country.

Mr Mulenga said the Government has challenged the industry to provide 300,000 jobs, noting that the number of jobs can increase when the industry grows.

Mr Mulenga expected the sector to this year improve because Government had given players some tax holiday on imported materials critical for its operations.

He said the council anticipated that the industry would grow as there would be more visitors coming into the country because of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) conference.

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