GOVERNMENT’s intentions of transform Livingstone into a premier
conferencing centre in Southern Africa next year is a step in the
right direction in terms of increasing tourist arrivals to Zambia’s
Tourist Capital, Zambia Tourism Agency (ZTA) managing director Felix
Chaila has said.
In his address to National Assembly on Friday during the presentation
of the 2017 Budget, Finance Minister Felix Mutati said the Government
would next year transform Livingstone into a premier conferencing
centre in Southern Africa to leverage on the infrastructure
developments that had been undertaken.
Speaking in an interview Mr Chaila said Livingstone was an
attractive destination but it lacked adequate conference facilities
and hence the move by the Government would increase tourist arrivals.
“This is a welcome move because Livingstone is already an attractive
destination and conferences will be an added incentive.
“Tourists are looking for destinations that have a diverse product
range including conferences,” Mr Chaila said.
He said the move was also in line with the growing global trend of
promoting the Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE)
The MICE industry is currently one of the fastest growing segments of
the tourism base world over as it mainly attracted local tourists.
Globally, the MICE segment carters for about 400, 000 events annually
across the globe with a total of about US$ 280 billion out of which
about 14, 000 are meetings, conferences, conventions and congresses
involving professional associations, corporate bodies, religious
groups and inter-governmental bodies.
Most tourism enterprises are now investing in conference rooms to
capture this business segment which assures high room occupancy rates
and increased consumption of food and beverages among others.
Mr Chaila said there was need to ensure that people who travel to
Livingstone to view the Victoria Falls also had an opportunity to
enjoy other facilities such as resorts and conferences.
He SAID the Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA TFCA) region, which include five Southern African Countries including
Zambia, had also identified MICE as one of the industries which could
grow the tourism sector.
“During the 20th session of the United Nations World Tourism
Organisation (UNWTO) General Assembly, Zambia had to partner with
Zimbabwe to host the event because we did not have inadequate
conference facilities in Livingstone and Victoria Falls Town.
“We also have been struggling to host large groups of tourists because
of the same challenge and so the move by the Government will boost the
sector,” Mr Chaila said.
Last week, a high powered delegation comprising of five Cabinet
Ministers met China Africa Cotton which is planning to invest US$ 50
million to construct a world-class hotel and a sky wheel with a 5, 000
capacity conference facility in the Victoria Falls area of