Making a record, 15th appearance at Africa’s premium event, “Meetings Africa” and forging partnerships form part of Zambia’s strategy and big plans to make tourism a pillar of its economy.
The Tourism Agency’s new Acting Chief Executive Officer, Chavunga Lungu has revealed initiatives the government has embarked on to make it a reality. Speaking to VoyagesAfriq in Sandton on the side-lines of “Meetings Africa”, the ZTA Boss said, the government has seen the need to diversify its tourism offering because of the enormous benefits business events and MICE offer destinations.
“We’ve realized the importance that is found in MICE and businesses when they come to meet. So as a country, the government that is in place has seen a lot of infrastructure development to the extent that right now, we are building a 5000 seating capacity meetings centre intending to host the African Union in Lusaka come July. So for us and Zambia as a MICE destination, we are actually positioning ourselves within the region,” he revealed.
He believes the new convention centre being constructed to host the Africa Union Summit will lay the foundation for a massive take-off in the areas of meetings and conferences. Chavunga also singled out the slashing of visa fees by 50% in all categories and the rollout of e-visa and visa on arrival facility is a huge leap for its commitment to making Zambia a smart destination.
He disclosed that “We have had to look at the whole visa regime. Our visa has three categories; A, B and C. We have those who can come without a visa, we have those who can come and do visas at the point of entry and others that need to do visa even before coming into the country. For all these categories, what the government has done in this year’s budget is to slash the visa amount from $50 to $25.
And that is just to promote accessibility into the country and to show that even during COVID, Zambia is still open for tourists to come in.”
On his impression of “Meetings Africa”, the former marketing and financial guru said, it was about time meetings and mega-events happened and the bold decision taken by South African Tourism was laudable and will play a key role in resuscitating the tourism sector which has been battered by the coronavirus pandemic.
“The human nature is very interactive and so then to have another opportunity to meet people not just for the sake of interaction but to end up having business conversations is great and I think it’s something we must be getting to. We’ve all learnt from different industries how to handle the Covid and we can go past that and start to meet physically,” he emphasised.
This Article was First Published in Issue 018 of the VoyagesAfriq Travel Magazine.