A Turkish tourism expert says Zambia possesses abundant tourism attractions needed to fascinate international tourists with unique experiences.
And 1,500 Zambians visited Turkey in 2019, representing a 40 percent increase compared to 2018.
Association of Turkish Travel Agencies (TURSAB) Corporate Affairs Director, Gulberk Asyapar, said Zambia with its diverse tourism attractions offered all that was needed to fascinate its visitors with unique experiences.
“Zambia’s tourism products include rivers and lakes, sports tourism, cultural tourism, ecotourism, the Victoria Falls and National Parks that offer visitors the best opportunity to view the best,” Ms Gulberk said.
She was speaking during a virtual presentation to TURSAB affiliate members dubbed ‘Destination Zambia.’ The webinar was jointly organised by the Embassy of the Republic of Zambia in Turkey and the Zambia Tourism Agency (ZTA).
Ms Gulberk also said there was growing interest by Turkish tourists to visit Zambia.
“In 2019, we hosted nearly 1,500 Zambian guests with an increase of 40 percent compared to the previous year, unfortunately these numbers were much lower in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Ms Gulberk said
She expressed happiness with the existing strong bilateral relations between Zambia and Turkey.
“Tourism is one of the major fields we expect high potential for growth,” Ms Gulberk said.
She also expressed concern that the COVID-19 pandemic had negatively affected the world economy.
“Unfortunately, one of the sectors that have been adversely affected is tourism, we hope the entire world will overcome this turmoil through international solidarity and promotional activities,” Ms Gulberk said.
She said TURSAB would continue working with Zambia to promote tourism and to enhance relations between the two countries.
Chargé d’Affaires at the Zambian Mission in Turkey, Stephen Mwenya said the Government of the Republic of Zambia under the leadership of President Edgar Lungu, had placed tourism high on its development agenda.
Mr Mwenya said the Zambian Government had recognised the sector as a key engine for development, economic diversification and job creation in line with the aspirations of the Seventh National Development Plan (7NDP).
“For this reason, the Government has developed the Zambia Tourism Master Plan (ZTMP) aimed at realigning the sector’s vision and strategies to the national vision and to foster a systematic development of the tourism assets,” Mr Mwenya said.
He said Zambia remains a tourism destination of choice on the African continent due to abundant tourism attractions, peace, political stability and the friendly Zambian people.
Mr Mwenya was concerned that Zambia’s tourism sector, like the rest of the world, had not been spared by the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“For instance, in the first half of 2020, Zambia only received 290,224 international tourists compared to 634,757 during the same period in 2019 representing a 56.3 percentage decrease. This resulted in loss of income and jobs in the tourism sector,” Mr Mwenya said.
He said in an effort to revive the sector in the short and medium term, the Zambian Government had formulated the Economic Recovery Programme (ERP) for the period 2020-2023.
Mr Mwenya said the ERP was aimed at restoring macroeconomic stability and to reinvigorate growth.
“In respect of tourism, the Government has provided tax relief measures and incentives to sustain the sector,” Mr Mwenya said.
He said Zambia looks forward to learning best practices from Turkey in the field of tourism and institutions like TURSAB played a vital role.
Mr Mwenya urged ZTA and TURSAB to consider establishing a predictable framework of co-operation through signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on co-operation in tourism promotion between the two countries.
“This will indeed help raise the bar of Zambia’s profile as a tourism destination of choice as well as to strengthen the existing impeccable credentials that Turkey continues to enjoy in global tourism,” Mr Mwenya said.