Promote domestic tourism — ZTA

LUSAKA - Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) says there is need to promote domestic tourism as a way of sustaining African nations.

Karikoga Kaseke, the ZTA chief executive, told delegates attending the Zambia International Travel Expo here that growth in domestic tourism helped to pull Zimbabwe through the last decade — between the year 2000 and 2010.

“I want to say the theme for this year’s Expo “tourism begins at home” could not have been any better, because tourism, like charity begins at home,” he said adding that in Zimbabwe domestic tourism contributes more than 60 percent to national tourism receipts.

“Zimbabwe went through a very harsh decade where tourism could have seen the last day but our domestic tourism pulled us through for 10 years when we were shunned by international visitors,” said Kaseke.

This comes as industry experts in Africa have been calling for the strengthening of domestic tourism to help cushion the impact of external financial effects caused by economic recessions.

The experts say the reinforcement of domestic tourism was cardinal because it will help sustain the sector in the event that foreign tourist arrivals slow down.

Kaseke said Zimbabwe and Zambia share a long history dating back to the colonial period.

“So we see ourselves as one. Any event that Zambia hosts we will attend, I saw Malawi, Botswana here.

“This is in the spirit of regional integration, how do we integrate before we integrate with tourism? Tourism is the very beginning of everything for any nation. If we don’t integrate through tourism, all other sectors will fail,” he said.

Kaseke added that the two countries’ relationship has always been strong but was further strengthened by the co-hosting of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) general assembly held last year in Victoria Falls and Livingstone.

Zimbabwe has been participating in the Zambia Travel Expo since its inception seven years ago.

The Zambia Tourism Board chairperson Mark O’ Donnel concurred with Kaseke stating that the UNWTO was a major boost for the two countries in terms of relationships.

“I think the UNWTO was a tremendous success, and I think it showed how much we can achieve through cooperation in terms of putting southern Africa on the global travel map.

“It also led to a lot of cooperation between Zambia and Zimbabwe and identification of areas which need to be further worked on in order to develop as a region.

“In the Livingstone area, there was a noticeable spike in occupancy figures. The legacy of the WTO is to build on what we achieved there so we will continue to build on what we had then,” he said.

The Zambian Travel expo is its seventh year running and has attracted over 150 buyers and exhibitors from 12 different countries.

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