Editor's Comment

Zambians should lead in promoting tourism

Kundabwika Falls on the Kalungwishi River, 95kms from Mporokoso. Picture courtesy of Zambia tourism

ZAMBIA has huge and yet untapped tourism potential.
The country, for instance, boasts of hosting the Victoria Falls, one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.
The Victoria Falls is a two sided wonder showcasing its spectacular and breath-taking waterfall when water levels are high especially in the rainy season and on the other hand displaying its amazing rock formation during the dry season.
The country also boasts of a number of smaller waterfalls such as Kundalila Falls in Central Province, Chishimba Falls in the Northern Province, Ngonye Falls in Western Province, Ntumbachusi Falls in Luapula Province and Kalambo Falls in Northern Province, Which is the second highest waterfall in Africa.
Zambia is also richly endowed with diverse and unique species of wildlife spread across the country in national parks.
The country is also home to various historical and spectacular museums showcasing the rich history of the country. One interesting museum is Motomoto based in Mbala which harbours deposits of weapons that were dumped by the German soldiers in Lake Chila after surrendering to the British during World War 1.
The country also boasts of the Samfya Beach on Lake Bangweulu in Luapula Province. This is one of the few white sandy beaches in the country, making it worth every visit.
In Siavonga there is Lake Kariba shoreline which provides a superb weekend getaway where one can enjoy the spectacular sunrise and sunsets on a houseboat.
These are just but a few of the many spectacular places that can be explored by both local and international tourists.
It is however unfortunate that while Government has envisaged to boost tourism and make it one of the major sources of revenue, not much progress has been made.
For instance, the country is still struggling to raise significant revenue from the industry to contribute to the GDP.
This is despite other countries like Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa and Seychelles, among others, raking in huge amounts of money from the industry.
All things being equal, Zambia should by now be counted among those reaping huge amounts of revenue from the tourism industry. This is much more so because of the number and uniqueness of its tourist attractions dotted across the country.
However, as long as Zambians themselves take the back seat in promoting tourism, the country will not translate its potential into real value.
This is why Minister of Tourism and Arts Ronald Chitotela is calling on citizens to take centre stage in promoting tourism.
It is unfortunate that many Zambians have been accustomed to the misconception that tourism is only for foreigners.
Many Zambians do not appreciate local tourism. Despite being born and living in the country for years, many people will admit that they rarely or do not visit local tourism sites.
However, if the tourism industry is to flourish, it needs the support of both local and foreign tourists.
It is evident that the Zambia Tourism Board has a lot of work to sensitise citizens on the need to appreciate and promote tourism.
For instance, in China, the majority of tourists to the Great Wall of China are locals themselves.
If Zambians do not appreciate the tourist attractions that God has given them, no one will. It should start with every Zambian.
Actually Zambians, apart from visiting tourism sites, are supposed to be tourism ambassadors wherever they go.
But how can one effectively market a tourism site they have never visited. It negates authenticity and passion in doing so.
It is however worthy noting that while there are some Zambians who would want to explore the many tourism sites, the high prices demanded to access these places are prohibitive for many.
Zambia Tourism Board and other stakeholders should work together to ensure that tourism sites are affordable to locals.
This eventually opens up a marketing opportunity through word of mouth by those that visit the sites.
It is good that the minister of tourism is cognisant of this fact. This is why he plans to engage players in the tourism industry to come up with a price for various services that will accommodate ordinary citizens so that they are able to tell Zambia’s beautiful story.
The minister also has a point in saying that the country should take advantage of its position as chair of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) Commission for Africa to come up with innovative ways of marketing Zambia.
Certainly Zambia needs a robust marketing strategy to start reaping real benefits from its tourism potential.

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