By Jeff Kapembwa
Lusaka - Amidst an economic downturn spurred by spiralling debt levels, Zambia has stepped up tourism promotion with indications showing a 50-member delegation expected in the country to assess investment opportunities in the Southern African state.
Zambia, initially dubbed the “world’s favourite tourism destination” as evidenced by various natural resorts and natural wonders, the Victoria Falls, has in recent years stepped up expos to lure tourists to visit the country’s natural resources, unavailable in most of its neighbours.
Ronald Chitotela, the Minister of Tourism, who recently returned from Europe to showcase Zambia’s potential, said in a statement on Tuesday Spanish tourists expected in the country will be taken on a tour of various spots in Livingstone, sharing the border with Zimbabwe, before venturing into other areas where sites have not been promoted.
Recent meetings with various foreign and local tour operators during the just ended international expo which takes place annually in the Ifema Trade Fair Centre of Madrid in Spain attracted many interested investors seeking to come and venture into Zambia in the creation of Eurostar hotels.
The tour of the Spanish delegation is likely to bring international brand hotels and familiarisation to the Southern Tourism Circuit. Zambia would also be host to heads of states summit of Kavango-Zambia Trans Frontier Area (KAZA).
Chitotela had during the Spain Trade Fair meeting last month described Zambia a perfect destination for investment in the hospitality industry. Zambia particularly wants investors who can set up conference facilities of international standards in the country. The country has ample land for investors spurred by warm hospitality among its people.
Addressing delegates during the fair, which attracted scores of participants from the public and private sectors from across the world, Chitotela reiterated Zambia’s good climate for investment adding that the country had remained peaceful since its independence from Britain in 1964.
During the fair, a participant, Luis Cruz, also managing director of Euro stars hotel company assured the minister of his company’s willingness to sojourn in Zambia for investment prospects and needed more information to make a business decision.
Chitotela assured Cruz of Zambia’s political stability while remaining ideal for foreign investment. Maria Zarraluqui, another potential investor and Global Development Managing Director at Melia Hotels International expressed his willingness to expand his company’s business in Africa. Melia Hotels International will actively consider investing in Zambia.
Chitotela recently indicated his desire to make use of recommendations made by among other reputated international media houses, the Cable News Network -CNN- and Forbes to place the country among the best tourist destinations in the world during the year 2020.
According to local media, the two global media houses had while in Spain urged Zambia to remain politically stable to lure more artists that seek to visit the country and visit various natural wonders.
And Zambia Tourism Agency Public Relations Officer Betty Mumba was happy with the response from prospective tourists at the fair over their willingness to visit Zambia before the end of this year and that, according to Mumba, would help the ZTA to market the country in earnest.
Most of the visitors to the fair wanted to know the type of wildlife found in Zambia to which Zambia will use to market the country using its natural beauty, with the Victoria Falls as an icon of tourism.
Zambia and its neighbor, Zimbabwe, have hit international limelight after the two co-hosted the UNWTO General Assembly from August 24 to 29, 2013 which attracted various international visitors.
The event was objectively held to promote and develop sustainable tourism and contribute to economic development, international understanding, peace, prosperity and universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all, without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion, according to data.