Local tourism way to go

EVANS Ngoma.

FOR any economy to blossom, all sectors must be contributing a fair share to the national cause.These sectors include agriculture, mining, manufacturing, transportation and logistics, tourism and support service industries.
These are the main wheels of any economy, and our country is no exception.
We should be proud that as a country we are doing fairly well economically with projections that we are on course of achieving our Vision 2030 of being a middle-income economy. This is by no means an easy task and we all need to play a role in it, one way or the other.
If we look at the agriculture sector, despite the current challenges in terms of input distribution, prices, etc, we have experienced a fairly good harvest.
With crop diversification into fresh farm produce and tobacco, we can only hope for the best whilst maintaining our focus on individually and collectively doing what is right for mutual benefit.
On tourism, as a country we are known regionally and internationally as home to one of the seven wonders of the world, the mighty Victoria Falls.
This is a very significant natural wonder we have and it has greatly assisted the country to make a name. We have Livingstone in the Southern Province, known as the tourist capital and has facilities that are meant to offer recreation to visitors.
I remember vividly way back in 2007 when I went to the airport to pick up a colleague.
As we were driving we tuned in to one of the local radio stations, Radio Phoenix and playing was a jingle on Zambia being the ‘real Africa’.
My colleague, who was from South Africa, was really charmed by what we could offer as a country, and straightaway made a commitment that in 2008 he would plan for a family holiday to experience the real Africa. I tell you, his experience was never a letdown.
Fast forward to 2018, during one of our routine conversations with my colleague, he asked me if I had been visiting tourist attractions in the country. Fortunately I had been to Siavonga and Livingstone, which was not that bad, but looking at it now I feel more could and can still be done.
As I reflect on how we can grow our economy, one of the things I have come to realise is the unmatched potential in the country’s tourism sector. We have game reserves, abundant water bodies and rich cultural heritage sites.
But as locals we are not aware that these actually exist within our country and that we can at least visit them once in a year.
We have a number of traditional ceremonies. N’cwala will be held this month. I’m happy that we still value and place great importance on such activities as they perfect platforms for cultural exchanges and play a big role in promoting local tourism. We must surely maintain these and give ourselves a pat on the back.
Looking closely at South Africa, during festive holidays, there is a tremendous increase in traffic to the beaches. This is one way of promoting local tourism.
There are issues of costs and prioritising what to do. I believe this can be an issue worth discussing and engaging various stakeholders on how, as a country, we can see to it that locals are not mere spectators in their own country but become active participants taking into consideration economic capabilities.
This should be a serious starting point, and as BuyZed we are going to create such a forum and deliberate on how best this could be done.
Still in South Africa, they have a running campaign dubbed ‘Shot left’ that seeks to encourage intercity visitations, say, from Cape Town to Johannesburg to see places like Soweto, Sandton and to Ethekwini to places like Moses Mabhidha Stadium.
All this is to encourage growth in local tourism. As advocates for a better Zambia for all, this surely is one way of growing our economy and for all to be active players.
We need to change the mindset that travelling, recreation and sightseeing are only for those who have money. We can all play a role.
School trips are useful and one sure way of promoting local tourism. We need to make sure that all traditional ceremonies contribute towards growth of local tourism.
As BuyZed, we are taking the initiative and will, in the coming months in our quest to build and grow ‘brand Zambia’ for the benefit of everyone, launch a local tourism campaign as a way to stimulate growth of this sector.
We hope to work with various stakeholders on how best it could be done practically to see an increase in the number of local tourists.
In subsequent articles we will list all sites available in the country to close the information gap that exists.
Let’s play our part to support the growth of the country we call our home and cherish so much.
The author is founder of BuyZed Campaign Zambia.

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