By Wesley Ngwenya

Last week, I happen to go on a working trip to Livingstone. The purpose of the trip was to bring awareness of the new product we were launching at work as well as solicit business in the Southern Province. I stayed at a fairly nice lodge within the downtown area of the city. The lodge is a very quite place surrounded by a beautiful forest making it look very natural.

Tourism in Zambia continues to grow substantially and is a major contributor to our national GDP. One can see from the endless hotel structures being erected all over Livingstone. I asked one hotel owner how they are able to stay in business with such competition emerging every day. He clearly stated that business was becoming cutthroat and not very easy.

During my working trip, last week, my target market was specifically the hospitality industry. I talked with hotel owners as well as managers working the industry. What shocked me is how these businesspeople were not putting the Zambian people in the equation. They were talking about advertising in South Africa, their rates were in dollars, and were quick to jump to their feet at the sight of a white face.

There is no doubt that the many foreigners, who visit the country, bring some substantial revenue to the tourism industry and the country at large. However, I find it rather appalling that the industry has overlooked the spending power of Zambians. Zambia has a growing middle class that is earning anywhere between $1,500 to $3,000 a month. This group can potentially spend a good portion of their income on a good local holiday. Unfortunately, I know many friends and family members who are right now on holiday in Cape Town, Australia or the United Kingdom. Why can’t these people spend a good vacation in Livingstone? Because the industry has completely ignored them.

What Livingstone and the tourism industry need to do is design local vacation packages that are Zambian tailored. Packages that specifically target the local market. There is plenty of money within Zambia that could be spent within the borders. A business that will stand out and target this group, in the next few years, will certainly have a first-mover advantage. Its revenue will increase and it can cut its advertising costs by placing local ads instead of using foreign media. In fact, here in Zambia, the advertising medium is plenty and very cheap.

Zambians also need to start looking and exploring the various vacation destinations within the country. Even Rupiah needs to stop going to Mfuwe and look at checking out places like Mongu, Mwinilunga or Kasaba Bay for a holiday. Let him lead by example. Spending holidays in Zambia does not only help our economy but it is also cheap and less headache.

Supporting industries such as airlines also need to target the Zambian middle class in order to support the industry. It will be great if in the next twelve months we see the airwaves showing adverts of a Zambian family taking a vacation in Livingstone, doing Banji Jumping, taking a helicopter ride above the falls or rafting the rough waters. What a perfect Zambia that would be.

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16 COMMENTS

  1. I totally agree with you ba Wesley Ngwenya. There is need to change this inferiority complex among ourselves. Sadly, black people are not even looked at as tourist material in the white man’s land. All because of our own attitude.

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  2. Better look at the state of the Lusaka-Livingstone road as well as the price of airfares before you ask us to put together packages for Zambians. And while you’re at it, check the fact that accommodation in Livingstone is apparently no longer zero rated for VAT. I also condemn the moderator’s racial comment above.

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  3. Wesley, there are middle class Zambians that go on holiday within Zambia (and Livingstone in particular), and there are tour operators that provide packages for Zambians (check Alendo Travel and you will be surprised). Problem is, those Zambians that can afford holidays would prefer to have it at Portico or Times Cafe. The downside of the industry that I expected you indicate is that it is cheaper for one to book a holiday to Zambia from South Africa than to book it in Zambia. And in all the years I have taken holidays within Zambia (Livingstone mostly) I have not had evidence of race bias! Please research more…

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  4. Zambians should also stop the attitude of just going abroad for holidays just to impress family and friends. now we all know what i mean here

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  5. # 5 you are right a beer alone in livingstone hotels, etc costs about $4 and across the border into Zim its $2. My boss as a beer lover he didnt hasitate jumping the border immediately he picked that up

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  6. This is actually a good article Mr. Ngwenya.

    I totally agree with you that the Zambian middle class which is mostly in Lusaka and the Copperbelt is being ignored. If more advertising was done in Lusaka and the Copperbelt showcasing Livingstone as a prime tourist destination, this would have the potential to grow the economy of Livingstone internally. It is true that we cannot ignore foreign tourists but that does not mean we should ignore local tourists.

    Mr. Ngwenya, do some additional research, write a paper on it and present it at a conference in Livingstone of which the local business owners can attend. This topic has some great insight in it.

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  7. The potential for local tourism is incredible. All it takes is a little initiative from local businesses and some pro-activity from Zambians. There is also the matter of infrastructure that needs to be addressed as #2 alluded to, but it is possible. From what I can see, Zambians are a lot of talk and little action. “Willing is not enough, we must do. Knowing is not enough, we must apply.”

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  8. Good point we need to support local tourism ,not only in Livingstone but else where too, But be remained to go with your legal spouse…not go swim with mistresses in those lodges especially if you cant swim…..

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  9. A middle class in Zambia that is earning as much as $3,000 a month? Thats (good) news to me. I wish Wesley could also state the percentage of the Zambian workers class comprising of this class?

    Otherwise, Wesley’s suggestions are in line with the principles of national development. Who, if not Zambians themselves promote their image better and contribute more to the growth of tourism in the country?

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  10. # 3 I totally agree with you. People go drinking at Times, 101, Portico, Rhapsody’s parting away with as much as K1,000,000.00 a nite thats US$ 217 but these people don’t go for holidays. I think it’s the type of culture that we have. It doesn’t promote that. Zambians would prefer going to S.A thatn visit their parks. For instance in most African countries, like Kenya and Zimbabwe (those I know of) when people are on leave they go to their home villages but in Zambia I think by now more than 50% of the urban population have never been to their villages. We need a culture change, we need to be proud of being Zambians, proud of our heritage then we can appreciate our natural resources without that forget the tourism for locals.

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  11. # 9. Whilst i agree that we need to go with legal spouses for holidays. The truth however is that there is a lot of fun being with girlfriends on such trips. In the same vain i disagree with Cobra Sata on the need to tar the Chipata-Mfuwe rd. I hope he was just playing counsinship. The tarring of the Chipata – Mfuwe rd would add massive value to local tourism to our prime wildlife destination the Great South Luangwa National Park. Ku Chinzombo. Chipata town will in turn benefit from stop over nights by travellers from Lsk and Malawi. That night club in Chipata town has a lot to offer.

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  12. 1st i believe every province in zambia has got its own unique things to offer but at the moment livingstone is the start. 2nd rich zambians have this culture of only doing holidays abroad maybe tourism business should do something about changing their boastiful brains as wesly suggests as for us the middle class thanks but we will stick to manda hill and arcads

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  13. actually we singlettas do go for short holidays to l/stone but we dont stay in lodges but with friends but be rest assured l/stone is becoming the in-town in zambia. maybe we can find a way of measuring outsiders who go for short holidays….though it would be difficult to curethis zambian chrinic disease of poor data management and documentation.

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  14. this article is shallow coming from someone who was doing “research”. gdp, 1500 or 3000 is not a good indicator of wealth spread. zambians are poor and the middle class is thining out – focussing on acquiring physical goods. a holiday abroad can be cheaper than holidaying in zambia given the high cost of travel and accom. as for the hospitality industry in l/s – they are focussing on the right markets because that’s where the money is. it’s a no brainer! the city’s infrastructure is lacking and unless the govt helps by providing laws that make the city appealing to foreign tourists then even with the mess in zimbabwe, zambia loses yet again.
    # 1 from canada – you and i live in canada (ignore the LT flag) and racism is a crime here so why should you want to export this to zambia?

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  15. Do any of you know that Lusaka apart from the Lusaka Park, has a Prime Park..The Lower Zambezi National Park. The the Zambezi River straddling the length of the entire park with all the big mammals present. Some of the Best Safari Lodges are found in this area

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