By Nation Reporter
THE ministries of Tourism and Finance have announced that the Government will next year start the construction of the long awaited conferencing centre in Livingstone which is expected to attract world-class clientele and grow the country’s economy.
Tourism minister Charles Banda said this was in line with President Edgar Lungu’s directive when he opened Parliament earlier this year that the Ministry of Tourism should be transformed into an economic ministry.
He said that Zambia had a lot to offer in the tourism sector and that was the reason it was working towards opening the Northern Circuit in order to reduce dependency on mining.
Mr. Banda was speaking in Livingstone when he and Finance minister Felix Mutati addressed the business community in the tourist capital soon after the national Budget presentation earlier that day.
“Currently the tourism sector in the country is contributing only 4 percent to the country’s GDP but once the conferencing centre is done, we are hoping to increase to 8 percent. The budget favours all sectors…let us make Livingstone a tourist capital than what it is now.
“We need to make Livingstone a destination of choice and once the tourism sector is developed, the other sectors will be developed. As tour operators and business community in Livingstone, we need your support in order for Government to achieve this,” he said.
And at the same function, Mr Mutati said that the 2017 Budget would make a difference and that the difference should start in Livingstone because of the planned conferencing centre.
“Next year, we want to put up an international conferencing centre and this will be able to grow the economy. We want those in the sector to open up and tell the challenges before we sign any statutory instruments. We want to know if there are any militants in the sector,” he said.