Tourism vital for sustained growth

Investment Forum with MARGARET CHIMANSE
GOVERNMENT has identified tourism, including arts and culture as one of the priority growth sectors of the national economy.
It has the potential to be a major contributor to socioeconomic development as an important source of jobs, prosperity and competitiveness, particularly in rural areas.
Key assets include pristine national parks and game management areas, which are home to a great diversity of wildlife and flora.
Tourism has also been singled out by Government as one of the priority areas for investment due to its numerous forward and backward linkages to various other sectors of the economy.
Tourism as an industry is seen to offer opportunities for revenue generation in both the private and public sectors, whilst at the same time, stimulating economic activities that deliver conservation, social and financial benefit to the communities where the facilities are based, as well as the nation.
This potential has been recognised by the Government and as such in the ‘Industrialisation and Job Creation Strategy’ (2013) Tourism has been defined as priority sector, with the target to create 300,000 jobs by 2016. This represents significant growth from the current tally of 57,337 jobs in the Tourism sector counted in 2013.
Zambia stands out as one of the prime tourism destinations in Africa offering a wealth of natural tourism assets that include waterfalls, lakes and rivers holding about 35percent of Southern Africa’s total natural water resource, ‘wildlife protected areas’ occupying about 10percent of the country’s total land area, and a tropical climate – a passport to sunshine almost throughout the year.
Zambia is home to the Victoria Falls, one of the seven natural wonders of the world and UNESCO Heritage site. In addition, Zambia is endowed with a rich and diverse culture resulting in the occurrence of more than 30 colorful traditional ceremonies annually.
Accordingly, Zambia’s tourism is attractive for investment with extensive infrastructure development of roads, hospitals, other services. The country is broadening the range of accommodation available from hotels, lodges, bed and breakfasts (B&B’s).
Zambia also boasts of a vigorous human resource development campaign that will provide the necessary skills to work in the growing industry. The destination marketing through the Zambia Tourism Agency is also bearing fruit as well as the product development to reduce the seasonality of tourism demand and the effective implementation of the tourism policy to create an enabling environment for businesses.
Further, the existence of the Zambia-Zimbabwe UNIVISA is geared to increase tourist arrivals in the country. The Government of Zambia is working to ensure that the UNIVISA is extended to other partner countries, namely Angola, Botswana and Namibia.
Additionally, the excellent investment opportunities in hotel development are evidenced in the substantial number of operators already established in the country. Zambia has a wide range of standards when it comes to places to stay – from five-star hotels and first class luxury lodges, to rustic bush camps, guesthouses and campsites.
The majority of visitors who entered the country travelled for business purposes, which illustrates the abundant investment opportunities in Zambia. Furthermore, Zambians are very friendly people. Zambia is also home to a diverse population. Boasting 73 local languages offering a rich array of traditional cultural festivities and events.
These attributes position Zambia well to be able to offer nature and wildlife related tourism products. It would not be unreasonable to expect that Zambia should be able to perform on a competitive basis, both regionally and internationally. There are key propositions that can be exploited to market Zambian tourism.

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