Editor's Comment

Appreciate own tourism

THE Victoria Falls in Livingstone, Zambia.

THAT Zambia has been named among the top 20 best places to visit in 2020 in the entire world by CNN Travel is evidence that the country’s tourism sector is a gem that needs nurturing.
The pronouncement is a stark reminder of the immense potential that lies in the country’s tourism industry and yet remains untapped.
Should it take someone from CNN to come and announce the value of the country’s tourism?
We, like many other stakeholders, have time and again lamented the failure to market Zambia’s tourism, which has so much potential.
It is not a secret that even today some people across the globe believe that the Victoria Falls is in South Africa while others believe that it is only in Zimbabwe.
The country has obviously been overshadowed due to the laxity in its marketing strategies.
Without exaggerating, by now tourism should be the major contributor to the GDP.
Government is certainly alive to the potential that lies in this sector. That is why tourism is one of the pillars of the Seventh National Development Plan.
It is, however, saddening that despite the country being endowed with vast tourism potential, it has failed to derive real value from the sector.
This is mostly because those charged with the responsibility to market the sector locally and globally have lamentably failed to do so.
If with little marketing in place an international organisation can rate Zambia among the top 20 tourist destinations, how much more would be achieved with more aggressive and strategic marketing in place?
Marketing Zambia’s tourism should be one of the easiest tasks for obvious reasons that tourism sites and products the country is endowed with are naturally breath-taking and are an attraction on their own.
This is why the CNN journalist that visited the country expressed awe at the tourism products and the experience they had in the country.
An except from the CNN Travel website on Zambia’s tourism states: “Jaw-dropping national parks and awe-inspiring wildlife characterise this beautiful southern African country. With more than 30% of the country’s land reserved for national parks, a visit to Zambia encourages you to get up close with nature.
“Take South Luangwa National Park, brimming with trees, plants and vegetation, which is home to some 60 animal species, including leopards, elephants and buffalo. Farther west, Kafue National Park, the country’s largest, is a haven for flora and fauna.
“The lush landscapes of Lower Zambezi National Park, on the Zimbabwe border, offer visitors awesome panoramas. The world’s longest freshwater lake, Lake Tanganyika, flows partly through Zambia. Its crystal-clear waters host hundreds of species of fish.
“If you want to spend your days soaking up the sun, head to Lake Kariba, Zambia’s answer to the French Riviera. Set yourself up for a peaceful few days of exploring via houseboat or get settled in a self-catering villa in the picturesque town of Siavonga.
“Parts of the spectacular Victoria Falls on the Zambezi are being affected by the drought that’s enveloped neighbouring Zimbabwe, but the waterfall’s thundering cascades are still not to be missed. The waterfall offers white water rafting, zip lines and bungee jumping, while visitors can take guided tours focusing on the history of Victoria Falls bridge.
“Don’t miss: The sunsets – it would be hard to not notice when vibrant hues of coppery orange and golden yellow illuminate the Zambian skies, but every time it happens, it’s pretty breathtaking.”
This was written by someone who probably visited the country for the first time and spent a few days only and yet appreciated the value that lies in the tourism sector.
It is also true that this author did not exhaust the list of what the country’s tourism industry has to offer but only highlighted a few.
For instance, the country does not only boast of different species of animals but those only found in Zambia like the black lechwe among many others.
The country also boasts of rich and unique cultural heritage.
Kasanka National Park in Northern Province offers a unique and breath-taking sight for bird lovers of about 10 million straw-coloured fruit bats migrating every year between October and December.
It is, however, disappointing that the local people, who are supposed to be top fans and marketers of the country’s tourism, do not seem to appreciate what they have.
For Zambia to be rated among the top 20 out of 195 countries in the world is not a mean achievement.
This is also evidence that with aggressive marketing, Zambia’s tourism sector cannot only make it to the top five in the world but be a major contributor to the GDP.

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