Development Features

How to fast-track tourism diversification

MWANSA CHALWE
The promotion of domestic tourism calls for interventions in the short, medium and long-term. In the short term, there are some actions that can be implemented for immediate economic impact on job creation and increased economic activity.
Marketing is critical in attracting tourist arrivals to Zambia. The Zambia Tourism Board (ZTB) needs to realign its marketing budget and allocate more resources for aggressive marketing of domestic tourism destinations.
On its part, the Ministry of Tourism and Arts through the Industrial Development Corporation has a chance to work with local private operators in the aviation sector with a view to introduce more players in the domestic air travel market to make air travel affordable.
The ZTB can also help in sales and marketing and in the provision training workshops for SMEs tourism operators. The ZTB can also encourage tourism operators to engage in sales promotions and off season specials and other incentives.
Marginal costing pricing strategies during the off-peak periods have the potential to increase volume of sales.
The Zambian tourism market is skewed towards Livingstone, the Victoria Falls, South Luangwa and Kafue national parks despite other attractions.
Zambia’s tourism products are generally centred on eco-tourism/nature which limiting the clientele. There are other tourist sites which offer differentiated products and which can be the basis of a tourism circuit like Tanzania’s Zanzibar-Kilimanjaro-Serengeti circuit.
Zambia boasts of 35 percent of Southern African Development Community water resources in the form of Lake Bangweulu, Lake Mweru and Lake Tanganyinka. Sadly, there is no marine tourism which would include beach tourism, boat cruises speed boat racing, fishing and ferries.
These products can accommodate families and enhance mass tourism. There is a lack of information about the available tourism sites in the various parts of Zambia.
The ZTB’s has a task  to cast the net wider to promote  group and mass tourism market segments such as religious tourism, education tourism, business tourism and family tourism.
The need for the development and exposure a variety of tourism products in the different geographical locations of Zambia has become urgent.
The legislation on tourism should be looked at also to help revamp the sector. Zambia has 10 pieces of legislation dealing with the tourism industry which will need to be harmonised. The Tourism and Hospitality Act, however, needs to be prioritised and revised and Government should seek input from players in the sector. The act should is silent on the cost of doing business in the tourism industry and the decentralisation of licencing.
One of the major constraints to the growth of the sector is the attitude of Zambians towards tourism. In addition, the undeveloped infrastructure leading to tourism sites, such as water and sewerage, power, roads, telecommunications, roads, airstrips and airports will also need to be addressed.
The development of domestic tourism and international tourism are not mutually exclusive. In the case of Zambia, if the proposed domestic strategies are implemented, it is likely to result in the increase of international tourist visits as the strategies promote products that will attract family tourists and mass tourism.
Currently, most of the foreign tourists that Zambia attracts are low volume, affluent, older who are attracted to nature based tourism. With well-developed infrastructure, international tourists can spend more money as they will stay longer and have access to a variety of tourist sites.
This year is the best to put in strategies to promote domestic tourism because of elections. Empirical evidence has shown that the number of international tourists tends to go down when there are elections in an African country because of the threat of increased political violence.
The author is the owner of Diaspora Capital Alliance, an international investment, travel and tourism consultancy.

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