FRANCE leads the world in the field of tourism with 83.7 million international tourists visiting the country in
The Eiffel Tower on the Seine River in Paris in France is one of the most iconic images of the world’s most visited country.
Yet, it is not the most-visited tourist attraction in the world. That title goes to the Las Vegas Strip, which sees almost 30 million visitors each year, who come to drink, eat, and party.
Zambia may not rank among the most visited countries in the world but that does not mean we should sit on our laurels.
We have our own unique places which can help pull millions of people.
However, we have not marketed these places and, therefore, the world does not know about our unique tourism destinations.
Until we put our house in order, Zambia will continue to be absent on the tourism radar and some countries will continue making money out of what we own.
Our national parks are iconic because they have wildlife species which most of the countries in the world do not have.
We have the Victoria Falls, the Kalambo Falls, museums, the Presidential burial site, the site where our national soccer team who perished off the coast of Libreville in Gabon are buried, the Lake Kariba, our copper mines and host of places too numerous to mention.
Yet we continue to grapple with few tourist arrivals which are in thousands instead of the envisaged millions given the massive tourism sites at our disposal.
However, the narrative is slowly changing following the introduction of the tourism levy.
Government will use the money being generated from the newly-introduced tourism levy to improve infrastructure.
Apart from infrastructure, Government also intends to restock some zoos, game management areas and national parks due to the few animals and animal species there.
Restocking tourism facilities countrywide is critical to enhancing domestic and international tourism as more people will be encouraged to come and see the type of animals the country has to offer.
This will ultimately help effectively contribute to the growth of the tourism sector and the economy.
Improving infrastructure is critical in our quest to attract more tourists to our sites.
While Government has demonstrated its political will to promote tourism as an alternative for economic diversification, a lot still needs to be done.
For instance, Government has made available the Mbala airport, a long-time military base, for civilian aircrafts in a bid to boost the northern tourism circuit.
However, as long as the road leading to Kalambo Falls, some of the tallest uninterrupted falls in Africa, remains impassable few tourists will bother to get there.
Mbala is unique because apart from the Kalambo Falls, it also has the Moto Moto Museum, which houses a collection of artefacts related to Zambian culture, first collected by Canadian priest Jean Jacques Corbeil in the 1940s.
There is also Lake Chila, which is of interest to historians because on its bed lies a collection of historic military weapons that have been there for more than half a century.
They were dumped by soldiers from German East Africa (Tanzania) after they surrendered belatedly to the Northern Rhodesia rifles at the end of World War II.
It is about time Zambia moved a gear up from constantly talking about potential to actualising this potential.