Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Focusing on tourism development key to prosperity

THE Patriotic Front (PF) Government has recorded notable successes in the tourism sector during its first 90 days of being in office.
One of the major achievements over the last three months was when Zambia and Zimbabwe won a bid to co-host the 186 member United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) general assembly in 2013.
This was during the 19th Session of the UNWTO general assembly which was held in South Korea from 8th -14th October 2011.
Delegates worldwide unanimously agreed that Zambia and Zimbabwe co-host this important World event in 2013 in Livingstone and Victoria Falls town.
Tourism and Information Minister Given Lubinda led the Zambian delegation during the meeting in South Korea where Zambia and Zimbabwe won a bid to co-host the UNWTO general assembly.
The general assembly is the principal gathering of the UNWTO which meets after every two years to consider the budget and programme of work of the United Nations specialised agency on tourism.
Delegates to the general assembly are drawn from the six regional commissions of the UNWTO from Africa, the Americas, the East and Pacific Europe, the Middle East and South Asia.
The event usually attracts 186 ministers responsible for tourism as well as media personnel and tourism stakeholders from various countries internationally thereby raising the profiles of hosting countries worldwide.
Another important achievement over the last three months is that the PF Government has provided K21.1 billion for tourism marketing and promotion as well as K15.0 billion to recapitalise Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) in next year’s budget.
The funding will go a long way in recapitalising ZAWA as well as in boosting the marketing of Zambian tourism locally and abroad.
Further, several companies and organisations including those in the hospitality industry in Zambia have improved their conditions of service for their workers over the last three weeks following President Michael Sata’s insistence for institutions to improve their conditions of service for their workers.
Southern Tourism, Agriculture and Commercial Show Society (STACSS) chairperson Fredrick Mwendapole said the PF Government had laid a solid foundation for the growth of the tourism sector during its 90 days in office.
Mr Mwendapole, who is vice-president of the Institute of Directors for Southern Region and Livingstone Tourism Association (LTA) member, said the recent winning of a bid to co-host the UNWTO general assembly was not a small achievement but something through which the country would benefit a lot in terms of marketing tourism products abroad.
"There were so many countries which bid for the hosting of the UNWTO general assembly but Zambia and Zimbabwe won the bid.
This is a major achievement under the PF Government as prospects of taking the country to higher heights are very high," he said.
Mr Mwendapole advised Zambians against thinking that the PF Government could achieve everything in 90 days as its mandate was five years which was still running.
He said the successful bid to co-host the UNWTO general assembly seemed to be the best gift for the PF Government under the leadership of President Michael Sata and the country as a whole.
Mr Mwendapole commended the Zambian Tourism Minister Mr Lubinda and his Zimbabwe counterpart for putting up an effective bid that saw the two countries win the bid.
"We now look forward to participate fully and take advantage of working together with our counterpart, our neighbour Zimbabwe,’’ he said.
As for the tour operators, let us not be very greedy as the Government starts working on the reduction of the cost of doing business. The same benefit should be passed on to the consumers of the services we provide," Mr Mwendapole said.
He said in doing so, operators would remain competitive to neighbours and increase traffic into Zambia which was key.
Mr Mwendapole also noted that PF Government’s decision to increase its funding to the Zambia Tourism Board (ZTB) in next year’s budget would boost the marketing of Zambian tourism products locally and abroad.
He said Zambia should emulate countries such as Kenya, Mauritius and South Africa in promoting local tourism.
"As you may be aware, ZTB recently conducted a road show on the Copperbelt to promote domestic tourism.
This is important because apart from focusing on foreign tourists, we need to focus on local tourism," he said.
Mr Mwendapole was also impressed that companies especially those in the hospitality industry had improved their conditions of service for their workers over the last three months of PF’s 90 days in office.
"Out of President Sata’s pronouncements on the labour market, a lot of companies are now trying to adhere to labour rules by paying decent wages to their workers.
Even street vendors are also excited because the President has directed that vendors should not be chased from the streets," Mr Mwendapole said.
He said the concept of more money in the pocket should not be misunderstood as it merely meant that the Government would put favourable policies for the local people to increase their capacity to do their businesses.
Mr Mwendapole said there was need for the Government and the private sector to work together to foster development in the country.
"Things have started improving in the country and what we need to do as Zambians is to support the PF Government because Government alone can’t do everything for us.
We need to have confidence in the Government and in whatever has been done over the last three years," he said.
The Catholic Diocese of Livingstone asked Zambians to give PF Government more time to implement its campaign promises following the elapse of the 90 days in office.
Diocesan secretary Clifford Mulasikwanda said more time was needed for the PF Government to implement the rest of the campaign promises which were not implemented in its 90 days of being in office.
Father Mulasikwanda said the people of Zambia looked to the new Government to implement its election promises adding that some of the campaign promises had already been implemented.