By NANCY MWAPE
ONE hundred young Russian tourists from MTC, Russiaâ€™s largest mobile telecommunications operator, are in Livingstone to sample tourism attractions.
The group,Â which will be in Livingstone for three days, is expected to visit the Victoria Falls and undertake an array of African adventure tour options, includingÂ white-water rafting, bungee jumping and wildlife safaris.
Zambia Tourism Board (ZTB) managing director Felix Chaila said when he welcomed the tourists that the Russian outbound tourism market occupies the fifth position worldwide in terms of tourism expenditure.
According to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation, Russian touristsâ€™ expenditure reached US$4.2 billion in 2012 with Chinese travellersâ€™ spending hitting US$102 billion on international tourism, topping the globe.
Mr Chaila said ZTB is working on attracting more tourists from emerging economies like Russia, India, China and Brazil, which give immediate results.
Zambia and Russia share cordial relations and a long history of friendship.
â€œRussia helped Zambia to gain her independence and many Zambians have benefited from education in Russia,â€ he said.
ZTB is focusing on luring tourists from emerging economies because this is a market that is embarking on long-haul travels to new destinations to explore the world.
â€œWhen you get a large group such as this one, the impact on the destination is much bigger, they fill up a hotel and tourism activities can be oversubscribed, everybody becomes a winner.
â€œIf we can be having 10 such groups in a season, this will have a bigger impact on Livingstone city and Zambia, as a whole,â€ Mr Chaila said.
He hoped that the group would have ample time to enjoy nature, wildlife, visit the museum to learn more of the history of Zambian people and their culture.
In April this year, ZTB brought in 13 Russian tour operators to sell the Zambian destination to that market.
Mr Chaila said ZTB will next year go to Russia for the tourism fair to market Zambia as a tourist destination.
He called on the group to be ambassadors for the Zambian tourism market.
Mr Chaila said Livingstone is not just an adventure capital of Africa but also the best destination for tourists due to peace and hospitable people.
He commended the local tour operator that attracted the group and called on local operators in the market to aim high and to compete for tourists in the industry like any other player.
Mr Chaila said Russia is a good market and Zambia should get a good share out of it.
By NANCY MWAPE