SEVERAL Hotels and Lodges in Livingstone are currently fully booked ahead of the 3rd Livingstone International Cultural and Arts Festival (LICAF) to be held this weekend during the Easter Holiday.
So far, the various lodges and hotels have not hiked their room rates for this period despite the increasing demand for accommodation.
A check by Times at New Fairmount Hotel, Limbo Lodge, Rites Inn, Likute Lodge, Wasawange Lodge, Chappa Classic Lodge and Lilamono Lodge yesterday revealed that the various entities were fully booked by local and foreign guests.
At AVANI Victoria Falls Hotel and Royal Livingstone Hotel, which are the biggest entities in Zambia’s Tourist Capital, the bookings were steadily coming for this weekend.
Likute Lodge was fully booked by last month but many people were still calling to make more bookings.
Limbo Lodge director Kingsley Lilamono said his entity was fully booked in January this year by a group of South Africans who would be attending the LICAF in Livingstone this weekend.
Mr Lilamono, who is former Livingstone Tourism Association (LTA) chairperson, said there was need for traders and residents to be innovative and take advantage of LICAF to showcase their products to tourists.
“We don’t have a lot of souvenirs around the Victoria Falls premises and so the local people should be creative and exploit the event to make money.
“LICAF is a key marketing to showcase what Zambia and Livingstone has to offer. I just hope more local people will attend the event,” Mr Lilamono said.
Minor Hotel Group Public Relations Manager Joyce Sikabbubba said her Group, which operates AVANI Victoria Falls Hotel and Royal Livingstone Hotel, expected many people to book the premises this weekend.
Ms Sikabbubba said the two Hotels had already put together a special accommodation package for guests during the Easter period.
“Bookings are steadily coming through and we hope to see an increase in the bookings now that the fuel availability across the country has stabilised.
“Most of our clients drive to Livingstone during Easter and it is important that Tourist Capital has adequate supplies of fuel during the Easter and LICAF period,” Ms Sikabbubba said.
Operators talked to wished that the current overwhelming response from local and foreign guests could continue throughout the year.
They however called for more marketing of the LICAF throughout the country and abroad to attract more tourists.
On Monday night, Livingstone District Commissioner Omar Munsanje launched the festivities for the 2016 LIFAC with a call for residents to take advantage of the event to create jobs for themselves.
The 2016 LICAF, which will held from March 25 and March 26, is aimed at promoting increased arrivals of both local and international tourists.
About 10 countries worldwide and representatives from 10 provinces of Zambia will attend this event.
Some of the countries expected to be in attendance are Turkey, India, China, South Africa, Namibia, Mozambique and Seychelles.
According to the official programme, Maramba Cultural Village will host the cultural and food cuisine panorama on Friday from 14: 00 hours to 22: 00 hours while AVANI Victoria Falls Hotel will host a gala night on the same night from 17: 00 hours to 23: 00 hours.
On Saturday, there will be a Street Carnival from Villa Grounds to various Townships of Livingstone where arts and cultural activities will be showcased by local and international artists while Livingstone Golf Club will host a pop festival from 17:3 0 hours until late.
Further, there will be daily side events at the Livingstone Art Gallery from 08: 00 hours to 17: 00 hours and at the Livingstone Museums from 09: 00 hours to 16: 00 hours.
Renowned Musicians Oliver Mtukuzi from Zimbabwe and Amayenge Band from Zambia will be among several other local and international artists to provide music during the festival.
In 2015, the second LICAF was held from March 26, 2015 to March 28, 2015 and it attracted artists and tourism officials from Zambia, Zimbabwe, Seychelles and Mozambique.
The first LICAF was first held in May 2013 as a curtain raiser for the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) General Assembly but the event has now become an annual event in the tourism global to attract local and foreign tourists.
It is also aimed at celebrating Zambia and Africa’s cultural identity and diversity and to showcase the best of Africa’s cultural product in dance and song.