Hichilema says his party will make interventions and channel investment into neglected tourism areas if elected into office in August 2016.
‘Tourism is one clear area where there have been missed opportunities for too long, particularly for our youth.
‘Looking at what some of our African neighbours have achieved in the tourism sector provides an insight into the opportunity. For example, in the Seychelles 15% of the formal workforce is directly employed in the tourism industry, which contributes 50% of GDP. Meanwhile, Mauritius earned US$1.35 billion from tourism in 2013, and 12% of GDP in Botswana, which like Zambia is endowed with rich mineral resources, comes from tourism,’ Hichilema explained.
He said some of the Practical actions that we need to take to unlock the potential of the tourism sector include: working with airlines to set up new direct flights to Zambia and empowering local airlines that operate local routes to tourism spots; support for training initiatives that provide youths with the right skill-set for working in the industry; increased protection of national parks and wildlife; support for Zambian SMEs and start-ups working in the sector through mentorship programs; and, improved access to capital.
Hichilema said his party will strengthen, adequately fund and modernize the Zambian Tourism Board to effectively promote the tourism sector to international audiences.
The UPND leader says his party will address visa issues by making the system fair, transparent and user-friendly but at the same time effective to protect Zambia’s interests so that tourists can travel to Zambia in larger numbers. Hichilema said this fair system will include supporting Zambian entities in the hospitality industry so that they can attain international standards and compete favourably while earning income for the whole country.
‘Zambia boasts of 600,000 visitors annually, yet tourists are just about 150,000 of this number. That aside, why can’t we tap into the 14 million Zambians who would also like to tour the country?’ Hichilema asked.
He explained that the contribution of tourism to the Zambia’s GDP has remained consistent low at around 3% despite the huge potential which is clear.
He said if we develop our national parks and protect our wildlife, we can reap huge benefits and create jobs for generations to come.
Below, the Kafue national park lies in ruins, with no proper infrastructure, while poachers reign supreme. Yet this is one of the best and biggest parks in Africa with a diversity of wildlife