Government has urged the private sector to take a leading role in making Zambia a top five tourism destination by 2030.
Acting Secretary to the Cabinet Patrick Kangwa says time has come for the private sector to develop and diversify the tourism sector by tapping into the emerging business concept of Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Exhibitions (MICE) as a core part of the tourism business.
Mr Kangwa said MICE is an important sub sector of tourism development that has potential to stimulate economic development.
Mr Kangwa said this in a speech read for him by Ministry of Tourism Permanent Secretary Howard Sikwela during a MICE stakeholder consultative meeting, organised by the Conference and Exhibitors Organisers Forum (CONFEX) last evening.
Mr Kangwa said government is implementing an enabling environment for the tourism sector to stimulate growth in the economy.
He added that MICE is a multibillion dollar industry that Zambia can tap into, in order to increase tourism arrivals that can significantly contribute to national development, through job and wealth creation and poverty reduction.
The Acting Secretary to the Cabinet noted that Cabinet recently approved the country’s tourism master plan 2018 – 2038, in order to increase the sector’s contribution to national development as provided in the 7NDP.
Mr Kangwa said government will continue to upgrade tourism and conferencing facilities around the country especially in the capital city in order to strengthen the MICE sector and make Lusaka a conference hub.
He urged the hospitality industry to improve attitudes and service delivery as they are to compete with other players in the region and world at large.
During the same function, Zambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ZACCI) President Michael Nyirenda called for the promotion of business linkages in order to grow the MICE sector in the country, for benefits to trickle down to Zambians.
Meanwhile, Zambia Tourism Agency (ZTA) Marketing Director Mwabashike Nkulukusa said MICE can be used to jumpstart and increase tourism arrivals as demonstrated by its contribution of 560,000 arrivals to the nearly 1 million arrivals Zambia recorded in 2018.
He stressed that lack of connectivity and infrastructure capacity is hampering Zambia’s ambitious plan of being the next big tourism destination in the world.
Mr Nkulukusa however said Zambia is making strides in wooing international attention and support to host high profile conferences.
He disclosed that Zambia will host the Commonwealth meet for lawyers this year and the Pediatrics and Maternal Health symposium in 2020 in addition to the 2022 African Union summit.
Mr Nkulukusa further added that the ZTA will soon engage tourism training institutions and service industry to improve service delivery.
And CONFEX Organiser Mulemwa Moongwa appealed to government to help certify and build the capacity of event managers in the country, in order to avoid being disadvantaged by foreign competitors.
Ms Moongwa noted that it was sad that events being hosted in the country, are not managed by Zambians, due to lack of certification.