MALUMO SILUMESI, Kasama
THE Northern Tourism Circuit (NTC) of Zambia is endowed with unique tourist attractions in form of waterfalls, national monuments, flora and fauna and a rich culture heritage.
But it’s the low tourist arrivals in the natural resource-rich regions that leaves much to be desired. And the challenge points to poor roads and lack of inns for visitors.
Last year, Chishimba Falls alone received 14,111 visitors, both local and foreign, an indication of how much tourism potential the region yields.
The NTC, comprising Luapula, Muchinga and Northern is one of the major tourism destinations in Zambia apart from Livingstone, the home of the Victoria Falls or the Mosi-oa-Tunya.
This region is being developed into a pristine tourism destination, taking advantage of its array of already known but unexplored natural attractions.
For example, the Northern Province’s capital, Kasama, stands out in the NTC in terms of having unique tourism sites in the country.
It is in Kasama where Chishimba Waterfalls, a national monument, is located about 36km from Kasama town on Luombe River. The waterfalls’ site manager Joseph Museba said last year, Chishimba received 13, 160 local visitors and 951 foreigners.
Around the Chishimba Waterfalls are spectacular cascades Mutumuna, Chishimba and Kaela Rapids which are 300 metres apart.
Kasama divided into Kasama Central, Malole, Lupososhi, Lunte, Lukashi, Lubansenshi constituencies is also home of the Chilambwe Waterfalls, Nkwale Falls and Kateshi Waterfalls.
Each of these waterfalls is unique and is an important tourist destination in the country.
Chilubula Church established by a Catholic priest, Father Du Pont in the last half of the 19th century, remains a remarkable composite of historic building.
The church was built between 1899 and 1909. Its design was influenced by Roman architectural art and architects actually compare it to a citadel because of its strength.
Recognised by the National Heritage Conservation Commission (NHCC) as a heritage site, the church is on the tourism trail of the NTC.
Von Lettow Vorbeck, a First World War national Monument at Chambeshi Bridge in Chief Nkole Mfumu’s area, also sets Kasama apart as a unique heritage site.
It is at this site that a Germany general received the news of his country’s surrender to Mr Hector Croad the District Commissioner of Mpika and the armistice on November 18, 1918.
In the same district, the NHCC highlights Kasama Pioneer Cemetery established in 1918.
It was a burial site for white pioneer settlers and is situated behind the Zambia National Building Society building.
The Mwela Rock Art Painting, declared a national monument in 1964, is located about five kilometres east of Kasama town on Mungwi road.
Mwela, recognised by UNESCO as a world heritage site, has over 1,000 rocks paintings of historical significance of the early man, making it the most compact site of rock paintings in Africa,
With such an array of tourism sites, Kasama Central Member of Parliament Kelvin Sampa says the Northern Province’s capital is an integral tourism area in Zambia.
Mr Sampa says he wants all known and little known potential tourism sites in the district to be exploited to the fullest.
The lawmaker is happy that the Chishimba Falls, Von Lettow Vorbeck National Monument and Mwela Rocks Art Paintings are in his constituency.
He said the Mwela Rock Art Painting are naturalistic and schematic paintings that were made by the Batwa people long before the Bantu settled in Kasama.
Mr Sampa said that there are over 700 rock paintings on the outcrop of Mwela, giving it a rich concentration of basic rock artwork in southern Africa.
He says the NTC has potential to contribute to the creation of wealth for the local people, creating jobs, infrastructure development and poverty eradication.
“We need to establish economic ventures by taking advantage of the potential that we have in tourism,” he said.
The Kasama Central parliamentary says he is working with Zambia Tourism Agency (ZRA) to market tourist attractions in his constituency.
In an ambitious drive to diversify Zambia’s economic activities, Government has identified tourism as one of the potential economic engines.
Like other tourist sites in the NTC, Kasama is endowed with many attractions, but needs infrastructure to increase the inflow of tourists.
Minister of Tourism and Arts Charles Banda says Government wants the Chishimba Waterfalls and Von Lettow Vorbeck National Monument to be developed and marketed locally and internationally.
“As Government, we want to develop tourism sites. As they are critical to the development of the county,” Mr Banda said.
Apart from infrastructure, the minister said tourist sites need information centres for tourists.
The Ministry of Tourism and Arts is working with the provincial administration to explore the NTC’s untapped potential.
Mr Banda says Government is also encouraging entrepreneurs to establish lodges in the NTC because accommodation is important in tourism marketing.
“For your own information, we have already found an investor who wants to put up a lodge at Chishimba Falls,” Mr Banda said.
The NHCC has taken note of all historical sites in the area which need proper infrastructure.
“The National Heritage Conservation Commission has rolled out in all parts of the country to identify historical sites that have been neglected for a long time so that they can be refurbished,” Mr Banda said.
The development of infrastructure to boost the tourism in the NTC should not be limited to lodges and hotels, but should also encompass the construction of roads and telecommunication facilities.