Zambia’s tourism industry is expanding and developing in exciting new directions. Having recognised the benefits of ecotourism, Zambia is achieving sustainable development, managing and conserving natural resources, and improving of the wellbeing of local people by heightening respect for the country’s culture, as the government broadens tourism options across the country. In 1997 this process was kick-started by the introduction of the Tourism Policy for Zambia, explicitly supporting development of ecotourism as part of the diversification of tourism products in Zambia.
An ecotourism destination
One of the aims of the government’s tourism strategy has been to standardise current ecotourism practices, improving the competitiveness of Zambia’s products and services.
Alongside this, supporting the development of niche markets has helped to provide services offering competitive value for money to travellers in Africa. Through the private sector a broad range of products and services have been created, adding value to activities already available. Those travelling to Zambia now have a vast array of ecotourism pursuits to indulge in.
Beautiful walking safaris in the Zambian wilderness provide the opportunity to track incredible beasts through lush vegetation, while the country’s 740 species of bird ensure ornithological safaris are always fascinating. Canoeing and elephant-back safaris offer a unique physical experience, and can be extended to intrepid overnight treks. Adventure and sporting activities are available for the thrill-seeking tourists. Operators also provide a wide range of exclusive and luxurious safari lodges and camps to complement the activities.
Zambian communities are recognised as major beneficiaries of ecotourism projects in their vicinities. The government, through the private sector, has encouraged the implementation of sustainable initiatives, including community projects intended to improve the general well-being of locals. These projects have improved infrastructure and skills development, enhancing health, education and lifestyle for locals across the country.
The government’s commitment has seen increased investment in tourism, adding value to the products and services already made available by the private sector. The participation of local communities has improved the ecotourism products Zambia can offer to the culturally sensitive traveller. Zambia’s tourism board has refined its marketing strategies, successfully targeting the emerging markets of the Middle East, South-East Asia, Brazil, Russia, India and China. At the same time Zambia’s Meeting, Incentives, Convention, Exhibition (MICE) industry is experiencing an upswing, not only in the number of events being held but also in the development of convention infrastructure. This, coupled with the introduction of airlines such as KLM, Air France and Emirates serving Lusaka, the country’s capital and air hub, and an increase in the seating capacity of already existing airlines looks set to increase tourism traffic to Zambia.
In 2011 Zambia and Zimbabwe won the bid to co-host the twentieth UN World Tourism Organisation general assembly in 2013. This has been a milestone achievement for the sector, and testimony to how improved products and services have expanded the country’s tourism industry. The event will be co-hosted by Zambia and Zimbabwe from August 24-29, 2013, at Victoria Falls.
Further information: www.zambiatourism.com