Prohibitive pricing deter local tourists – Makebi Zulu
By Staff Reporter
EASTERN Province minister Makebi Zulu says prohibitive pricing is keeping away prospective Zambians from visiting tourist attractions such as national parks.
Speaking at a press briefing on Wednesday in Lusaka, Zulu observed that there was a dismal disparity between local and foreign tourists that annually visit the South Luangwa National Park in Mambwe district.
The minister noted that costs for lodging facilities tended to be inhibitive to prospective Zambian tourists.
Zulu, who is a PF member of parliament for Malambo Constituency in Mambwe district said Eastern Province had the best park in Africa in South Luangwa National Park as affirmed by the World Tourism Organisation about two years ago.
“It is the best stocked park in the world, I must say, and the only sustainable national park in the world,” Zulu said.
“We have potential to receive many more tourists coming in. But we have had more of foreign tourists coming in than the local tourists…… and we want to bridge the gap.”
He highlighted that in 2017/2018, Zambia received about one million tourists and that out of that, about 45, 000 tourists visited the South Luangwa National Park.
“Of the 45, 000 tourists that came, there were only about 4, 600 who were Zambians. What is it that is stopping most Zambians from going to places like South Luangwa National Park? We discovered that the problem is the tourism facilities that are supposed to support the industry are not there,” he noted.
“For instance, if you are going to get to a good lodge within the park (South Luangwa), you’ll pay up to $800 per person per night, $500 per person per night or indeed $300 per person per night. [But] the average Zambian is incapable of affording that!”
Zulu, however, said expensive accommodation in the South Luangwa National Park was an opportunity to allow Zambians to set up lodging facilities within or outside the park but offer “very affordable prices for people to be able to come through.”
“So, we are trying to improve on our tourism gains by advertising more on the local market as much as we are advertising on the outside market. Even those that are coming from outside [Eastern Province], we want them to come and offer good accommodation services, good conference facilities that are going to boost tourism in Eastern Province,” Zulu noted.
He stressed that tourism in Eastern Province was a potential market for locals for them to invest in hospitality services, especially near national parks.
“Sometimes it’s lack of sensitisation; we’ve noticed that sometimes you have a very good resource, like in Livingstone. But there are people who have lived in Livingstone for a long time and they have never seen the [Victoria] Falls!” Zulu lamented.
“It is that interest that we would like to awaken in the Zambians that you need to visit local tourist attractions. Then we’ll become better ambassadors for our country.”