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Marketing tourism away from the Victoria Falls

MWELA Rock Painting in Kasama.

Art Yak with CHANDA MWENYA
AT THIS point, it does not necessarily require somebody to be an economist to realise that the country needs to diversify from mining to other industries to keep the economy afloat.
Listening to newly appointed Minister of Finance Felix Mutati, it is clear that the national economy is facing challenges.
But of course there is a resolve to do whatever is necessary to overcome the economic challenges.
Understandably, healing a frail economy requires time and strategic planning.
Well, at least there are plans; Ministry of Tourism and Arts permanent secretary Stephen Mwansa recently announced government’s plan to improve tourism in the so-called northern circuit.
It is common knowledge that in Zambia, tourism marketing has largely been concentrated around the Victoria Falls or Mosi-Oa-Tunya, as the locals call it, and the wildlife in the big national parks.
This practice has indeed disadvantaged other tourist attractions that can equally contribute favourably to the country’s revenue.
There are many natural and heritage sites in other parts of the country that have geographical and cultural importance.
Take for instance the rock paintings in Mumbwa in Central Province and the Mwela Paintings in Northern Province; they do not only display rare creativity but unveils ancient civilisation in visual communication.
Still on important footprints in human civilisation, Zambia harbours an important site of ancient trade at Ing’ombe Ilede, a place that still inspires contemporary society.
Ing’ombe Ilede, which means ‘a sleeping cow’, is an archaeological site on a hill near the confluence of the Zambezi and Lusitu rivers, near the town of Siavonga close to Kariba Dam.
Away from the mighty Victoria Falls, Zambia boasts of 18 other waterfalls that are equally spectacular.
In modern history, Zambia is appreciated as a beacon of peace, and a country that assisted other southern African countries such as Zimbabwe and South Africa in their liberation struggles.
Celebrated African National Congress (ANC) leaders such as Oliver Thambo and Thabo Mbeki once lived in Lusaka.
The houses which these icons once occupied can be tangible stuff of rich political and cultural background of the two countries.
Tourist attractions are not always about natural resources.
Look at how neglected the house, which hosted former President Kenneth Kaunda’s meetings with other freedom fighters in Lusaka’s Matero township is.
Other than the signpost of the National Heritage Conservation Commission (NHCC) perched at the entrance of the facility, there is absolutely nothing to show that it is an important heritage site.
But these are places which can attract both local and foreign tourists if properly managed.
Just as it requires concerted efforts to improve the economy, it also requires concerted efforts to improve the tourism industry if the country has to benefit from its vast potential.

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