By STEVEN ZANDE –
THE Government is repositioning the tourism sector to increase annual tourism arrivals to 13 million to create additional jobs and help lift more people out of poverty, Tourism and Arts Minister Charles Banda has said.
Mr Banda said last year Zambia received 1.116 million tourists compared to 956, 000 in 2015 but the Government was targeting 13 million by 2020 which would enable the State roll out more programmes aimed at lifting people out of poverty.
He said upgrading of the Kenneth Kaunda (KKIA) and Simon Kapwepwe International airports, the anticipated launch of a national airline and robust marketing strategies were among factors expected to trigger a spike in the number of tourists visiting local attractions.
“The figures are going up. But this has not translated into real economic gains that can reduce suffering among the people. It means we can still do better,” he said.
He said this in Lusaka yesterday when he featured on the Patriotic Front (PF’s) interactive forum platform.
The Government was creating more linkages between agriculture, health and other sectors with a view to strengthening economic growth and job creation in the nation.
The Government was engaging in what he termed as ‘product development’, a strategy which authorities were using to market local tourist attractions to ensure that Zambia increased its global market share.
Mr Banda further said the cholera outbreak which hit Zambia at the end of last year had not affected tourist arrivals.
He said the Government had focused on publicising measures which authorities had implemented in combating the disease outbreak and not the spread of the pandemic itself.
Mr Banda said the tourism levy, which Government introduced on tour operators last year had received impressive compliance from players in the industry.
He expressed concern at the high cost of accommodation at some tourist attractions like national park facilities, infrastructure which he said hampered the growth of domestic tourism.
Mr Banda said tour operators to find a solution to astronomical charges for rooms and other facilities because this was usually beyond the reach of average local tourists.