Govt calls for diversification in tourism

GOVERNMENT has announced that it has taken a policy shift in marketing the country’s tourism and will now target various other forms of tourism activities in order for Zambia to explore untapped potential and maximise benefits for the country. The policy shift would see Zambia package and develop other forms of tourism products such as health, academic and sports. Tourism and Arts permanent secretary, Steven Mwansa, said it was unfortunate that Zambia’s tourism had been hinged on and limited to nature and a few annual traditional ceremonies for far too long. Mr Mwansa disclosed that President Edgar Lungu has given a directive for the National Heritage Commission and other relevant institutions to be realigned to the Ministry of Tourism, “a move which we see as very progressive as it will enable us market tourism as a total package.” He said his Ministry was just waiting for a Gazette Notice on bringing the National Heritage Commission under Tourism to be issued. Mr Mwansa was speaking when he addressed diplomatic staff at the Zambian High Commission in Pretoria on Wednesday. Mr Mwansa was in South Africa where he attended the 17th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (CoP) to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which took place in Johannesburg from 24th September to 5th October, 2016.  He said that his Ministry was further pre-occupied with finding ways through which to grow hotel bed space across the country that the National Pensions Scheme Authority (NPSA), National Housing Authority (NHA) and the Zambia Postal Services (ZAMPOST) had since been engaged to agree on converting some of their buildings into hotels. “We have lost out on hosting a number of big international events while we have shared some with other countries because the country does not have enough accommodation. We believe the approach we have taken is workable because it is easier to convert than to build hotels from scratch. A lot of investors do not like doing that. And the feedback has been positive,” Mr Mwansa said. Mr Mwansa has also backed calls for the re-introduction of a national airline, pointing out that the nation should not limit its assessment to the profitability of such a venture but should consider other sectors and activities that would benefit the country if an airline was to be re-established. Meanwhile, Mr Mwansa has welcomed the up-listing of the Pangolin as a restricted trade or total ban on its trade except for scientific research which came after months of vociferous lobbying.  And Zambia’s High Commissioner to South Africa, Emmanuel Mwamba has said that the Mission organised the meeting so that Mr Mwansa could address diplomatic staff in South Africa in order to share the Ministry of Tourism policy direction and other developments.