While I was sitting at the beautiful Wilderness Safari Lodge, I couldn’t help but compare Botswana and Zambia tourism. Zambia does not have the Okavango, but it has other beautiful areas, which are totally under-utilized. South and North Luangwa, Lower Zambezi, and the northern section of Kafue National Parks are doing okay. Operators in those areas will complain that it is tough, though. Most of the operators live and work in these areas because they love the lifestyle, though, not because they are making lots of money. On the other hand, Wilderness Safaris in Botswana is making money; it is making money so that it can expand and develop into more and more areas in Africa.
Around the Southern Province, there are easily accessible parks and wildlife areas. The southern section of Kafue (with one lodge), Sioma Ngwezi (with no lodge and no infrastructure), Lochinvar (with no lodge and a dying lechwe population), should be providing an income for the government and employment for the people. Why don’t they?
Costs are too high and bureaucracy is overwhelming. When looking at a map of the Sioma Ngwezi Park, ZAWA had divided the park up into about 5 sections and expected investors to come in and develop the park at vast expense. ZAWA should be paying an investor to come in and sort out the mess they have made of the park through negligence.
Lochinvar, one of the world’s richest bird areas still lies in ruins. World Bank came in and gave it some new roads, but the campsite is derelict. One company came in a few years ago to run a lodge, but they left. I wonder why they left and why no one else has come in?
There is something seriously wrong with the way tourism is attempted to be developed in Zambia. Maybe a look at the Botswana model will show how that country does it; how the government now receives an income from tourism, which is second to its income from diamonds.