“Tourism is the fastest-growing sector currently in Zambia and the Zambian government recognises tourism as one major sector that can assist us with the creation of employment and general wealth creation,” Zambia Tourism and Arts minister Sylvia Masebo told CNBC Africa on Monday.
“Currently, tourism has been earmarked as one of the four pillars for economic development here in Zambia and to that effect the government has put it as one of the four pillars after mining, agriculture and infrastructure development.”
Zambia will be co-hosting the United Nations World Tourism Organisation’s (UNWTO) 20th General Assembly with Zimbabwe. Tourism has increasingly gained prominence as a driver of economic growth, inclusive development and environmental sustainability in Africa and is a significant revenue creator for a number of countries on the continent.
Zambia has a number of natural resources such as copper, gold, emerald and zinc, and much of its tourism is nature and wildlife based. The co-hosting of the UNWTO had added to the popularity of the sector in Zambia.
“One of the challenges we have faced in the past has been marketing as a country. With the upcoming general assembly, that in itself is helping Zambia to be able to effectively market itself as one of the premier destinations in the region,” Masebo explained.
Masebo added that Zambia in the past has not marketed itself very well in terms of globally publicising its tourism sector and is hoping to use the co-hosting as a platform to market Zambia to its full potential.
The Victoria Falls, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, is shared by Zambia and Zimbabwe and has been a prime tourist destination for decades.
Zambia also has vast forest space that has largely remained untapped, which creates a potential investment opportunity.
“We have put in place policy changes with the view to getting tourism on the right footing and we have the arts and cultural sector that has been added to the ministry of tourism so that we can effectively organise and harmonise the sector, and get the results that we intend to get,” said Masebo.
The UN World Tourism Organisation's General Assembly 20th session will take place from 24-29 August in the border towns of Zimbabwe and Zambia, Victoria Falls and Livingstone, respectively.