Landlocked Zambia expects to pull in new tourists in 2010 by capitalizing on the visitor influx to South Africa for the FIFA World Cup tournament, which begins in less than 100 days.
To siphon off some of these expected 500,000 international arrivals to South Africa, the Zambia Tourist Board (ZTB) is running its first ever European trade and media roadshow, which includes stops in Paris, London, and Madrid before finally ending in Berlin for ITB (March 10-14). The UK, France, and Germany are Zambia’s most important European markets, and British Airways is the country’s biggest international carrier. However, due to the economic slump, 2009 saw tourist numbers fall to 811,000 from almost 900,000 the year before.
The roadshow aims to give tour operators in each market a better understanding of the Zambian tourism offer so they can encourage their clients to use some days of their South African itineraries to visit Zambia. Consulting firm Grant Thornton claims the World Cup will boost South Africa’s economy by around R21.3bn ($2.85bn), of which an estimated R12.7bn ($1.7bn) will be in direct spending. Zambia would like to see some of that diverted in its direction.
At the UK event on Thursday, March 4 in London, ZTB marketing manager Donald Pelekamoyo told eTurboNews: “The World Cup is an opportunity for us because of our proximity to South Africa, and many visitors will already be in the region. We are less than two hours away (by air) with two flights a day to Lusaka (the capital).”
More daily flights from South Africa’s privately-owned Kruger Mpumalanga International airport in Kruger Park are also available to Livingstone on Zambia’s southern border close to the country’s most notable tourism draw, the Victoria Falls, which are the highest in Africa.
Pelekamoyo added: “We also hope to attract tourists directly to us who want to go to Africa on safari, but who are not prepared to go to South Africa because of the World Cup activities.” Perceptions of higher costs and demand for tourism facilities in South Africa give neighboring markets a chance to create an alternative offer.
Through government funding, Zambia is also diversifying its tourism infrastructure. “We are developing the northern circuits around Lake Tanganyika for luxury tourism and upgrading the airport at Kasaba Bay for international access by the end of this year,” explained Pelekamoyo. To lift tourist revenues, which are currently 3.5-4 percent of national income, ZTB has also embarked on a national marketing campaign to drive up domestic tourism and increase MICE business this year.