Zambia and SA discuss integrated regional tourism

Zambia and South Africa on Tuesday called on countries in the southern African region to integrate their tourism development in order to reap maximum benefits from the sector.

Ministers responsible for tourism in the two countries said the region needed to move to integrated tourism that will enable it to showcase its tourism sites and wildlife.

Zambia's Tourism and Arts Minister Charles Banda, said during a bilateral meeting held on the sidelines of a tourism conference in Durban, South Africa, with his South African counterpart Derek Hanekom that Africa's revenue from tourism products was minimal at 5% of the world revenue despite the sector having the potential to contribute more.

He said there was need for countries in the region to complement each other's efforts in promoting tourism and urged the two countries to consider implementing a uni-visa for foreign tourists visiting the two countries in order to boost tourist arrivals, according to a statement released by the Zambian embassy in South Africa.

The implementation of the uni-visa between the two countries was in line with the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and African Union (AU) vision of free movement of people, he added.

According to him, Zambia recently signed a uni-visa agreement with Zimbabwe and urged other countries in the region to follow suit in order to encourage a regional integrated approach to tourism.

On his part, the South African minister said the region needed to ensure grading system of hospitality facilities existed as well as uniform standards for hotels and lodging facilities.

The discussions emphasised the need for increased commitment from all African states in implementing the bi-lateral and multi-lateral agreements. This would encourage governments to ensure that the basic infrastructure and regulatory frameworks are in place to facilitate regional tourism growth.

African tourist arrivals increased by 8% (4 million tourists) to reach 58 million in 2016, and it supported 8.3 million direct jobs. According to the Word Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), this number is expected to increase to 11.6 million jobs by 2028.