The prevailing collaboration between Zambia and Zimbabwe ahead of the 20th session of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) General Assembly in 2013 will translate into attracting more tourists to the two countries, Zambia’s Tourism and Foreign Affairs deputy minister Effron Lungu has said.
Dr Lungu said time had now come for Zambia and Zimbabwe to let the whole world know about the vast tourism products existing in the two countries.
He said the two countries have vast wildlife and are home to the Victoria Falls which is one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
Dr Lungu was speaking at Chrismar hotel in Livingstone on Tuesday during a luncheon hosted by the Zambia Tourism Board (ZTB) for the Africa Travel Association (ATA).
ATA delegates are currently attending the 37th Annual World Congress in Zimbabwe.
“We feel privileged and honoured to have been given the opportunity to host the ATA delegates as part of the 37th Annual Congress which is being hosted by our neighbours Zimbabwe,” Dr Lungu said.
He thanked the Zimbabwean counterparts for according the ATA delegates an opportunity to cross the Zambezi River and sample the Zambian tourism product as well as the Zambian hospitality.
Dr Lungu said the gesture showed a true demonstration of the cooperation and understanding that existed between the two countries.
“In just a few days, the cooperation being witnessed between the two countries will further be amplified by the signing of the Tri-Lateral agreement between the said countries and will lead to the co-hosting of the UNWTO General Assembly in August 2013 in Livingstone and Victoria Falls towns,” he said.
Dr Lungu said the time has now come when Zambia and Zimbabwe must let the whole world know of this attraction that bordered the two countries as the wonder of wonders and all other exciting safari and adventure products which were now to be found in these exotic destinations.
He urged the ATA delegates to spread the word once they returned to their various countries about the wonderful experience they found in Zambia and Zimbabwe as well as the upcoming and most exciting tourist products being offered.
The important role that the ATA could play in the growth of Tourism in Africa is to promote tourism attractions on the African continent and to educate travel agents and incentive companies on the products and services offered by Africa’s Tourism industry as well as to identify new tourism products for the benefit of locals and the international Tourism industry.
“Government has recognised the importance of Tourism to the National economy and the direct benefits that can accrue to its nationals and will continue to render and grow support towards making the ZTB as effective as possible,” Mr Lungu said.
He said the world had currently been experiencing wars and security problems, but he was happy to state that Livingstone and Zambia were among the safest destinations in the world.
And ATA executive director Edward Bergman said that there was a long relationship between his organisation and Zambia as the country has held two posts in the organisation.
Mr Bergman paid tribute to Zambia and Zimbabwe for receiving their organisation with open arms and that it was the first time their organisation visited the two countries when having their meeting.
He said his organisation encouraged countries to market their countries tourism products jointly and that, it was very easy for them to cross the border.
ZTB managing director, Felix Chaila said his organisation and the Government were doing everything possible to ensure that the country’s tourism is linked.
He said ZTB had been having talks with the major airlines so that they could link the country’s major airports and that, it was collaborating with major airlines.
“If the airlines are able to fly tourists direct into the country then they would be able to afford to reach the destination and this would mean that more tourists would be able to come to Zambia,” he said.