Underfunding blocking tourism

THE Tourism Council of Zambia (TCZ) has cited underfunding as part of the challenges hindering the growth of tourism in Zambia.
TCZ representative Grant Cumings said there is need to engage the private sector when developing the national tourism marketing plan to ensure the resources are spent effectively.
Mr Cumings said this at a sensitisation workshop for various stakeholders dubbed, ‘fostering increased private sector consultation for better regulations in the business environment,’ aimed at strengthening private sector participation in fiscal matters.
Recently, Minister of Tourism Charles Banda said a master plan is being developed that will enhance infrastructure development at tourists’ sites in a bid to increase tourist numbers.
In an interview recently, the minister said that due to poor infrastructure, some tourist’ sites in the country have been abandoned.
He also said the introduction of a tourism levy would see the ministry receiving funding that could be channelled towards improving roads, tourist sites and services.
Meanwhile, Mr Cumings has advised Government to emulate countries such as South Africa whose tourism budget is US$150 million, Kenya’s US$50 million, Botswana’s US$8 million and Zimbabwe’s US$13 million, while Zambia’s is less than US$1 million.
“Under-funded, poorly strategised national marketing has resulted in few tourists knowing about Zambia and those that do mistakenly think Zambia is a rural destination only for the adventure traveller.
“Although 80 percent of tourists cite video or film as crucial to their choice of a destination, Zambia discourages making videos in its wildlife areas by charging high filming fees and formal permission requirement which is difficult and time-consuming,” Mr Cumings said.
“Being featured on programmes such as Animal Planet and National Geographic is free advertising for the country but Zambia is still asleep in this regard while other countries are getting all the attention through maximising use of this opportunity.”
He said despite Zambia being one of the safest countries to visit, with sufficient wildlife resources and friendly people, it is evident that the country is not achieving its full tourism potential.

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