As 2009 came to a close, the Zambian leadership was upbeat that tourism will play a pivotal economic role for this landlocked country in the coming year, when investments sunk into the sector begin to bear fruit.
“The tourism sector continues to rank high on my government’s development agenda, as it holds great potential in the diversification of our economy,” Zambian president Rupiah Banda told his nation in a published message Thursday.
Indeed, the diversification of the Zambian economy from mining to agriculture and tourism is part of initiatives that were started by late president Levy Mwanawasa and which attracted financial support from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Banda built on these initiatives and it is now expected that his commitment to the dream will significantly yield results in 2010.
Specifically, more tourists are expected to visit Zambia’s wildlife sanctuaries in the South of the country, the Eastern parts of the country and the relatively central Kafue National Park. Building on the original plans, Banda has shifted focus from Southern Zambia, he art-throb of Zambian tourism, to the new area of Kasaba Bay where he intends to commercialize parts of Mbala airport which presently is an Air Base, so it can handle civilian air traffic as well.
Consequently, while legislation is being changed in parliament to accommodate this economic necessity, the Zambian government has already gone ahead and increased the overall allocation for tourism to K77.6 billion from the K26 billion of 20 0 8. [US$1 = K4, 680]. Of this amount, K24 billion has been allocated towards rehabilitating the road c onnecting Mbala Air Force base near Lake Tanganyika to the resort area of Kasaba Bay. A further K11 billion has been allocated towards the construction of a terminal building at Mbala Airport and an airstrip at Kasaba Bay on the banks of Lake Tanganyika.
PITY THEN, THAT THE ZERO RATED VAT ON ACCOMMODATION IN LIVINGSTONE HAS APPARENTLY BEEN WITHDRAWN, MEANING EITHER A 16% PRICE INCREASE TO BE PASSED ON TO GUESTS OR AN EQUIVALENT SLASHING OF PROFIT, AND THAT NOTHING HAS BEEN DONE TO REINTRODUCE VISA WAIVERS FOR BONA FIDE TOURISTS.