Pesident Banda says the direct contribution of tourism to Zambia’s gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to reach US$412 million this year.
This is about 2.3 percent of the country’s total GDP.
The President said according to the World Travel and Tourism Council, tourism is expected to directly support 22,000 jobs.
He was speaking during the 10th anniversary of Sun International in Livingstone last evening.
“Our hopes for the tourism sector are justifiably high,” he said.
He said he is confident that by 2015, the country will meet the target of attracting four million international tourists yearly, by which year tourism is expected to contribute about eight percent of Zambia’s GDP.
President Banda said he is interested in seeing more Zambians venturing into the tourism and hospitality sectors.
“This country has a massive outlay of natural wonders to offer the world, and there are armies of tourists visiting and trying to visit Zambia, which means business opportunities are already guaranteed. My government has taken a number of steps to make citizens’ empowerment a reality, and we also have promoted the concept of public partnership ventures,” he said.
The President said the 2011 national budget has allocated K76 billion to various empowerment programmes.
President Banda said the resources are targeted at sections of society that are usually unable to access funds through financial institutions.
He said the targeted groups are the youth, the women and persons with disabilities.
“My government has gone as far as providing very clear guidelines to all the fund managers on how the funds should be managed to make sure the resources go to the intended beneficiaries,” he said.
President Banda said in Zambia, micro, small and medium-scale enterprises dominate sectors such as agriculture, trade, textiles, construction, manufacturing, transport, information and communication technologies and hospitality.
He said these provide the largest share of employment opportunities to the people, especially in the rural and peri-urban areas.
“I therefore want to encourage the honourable Minister of Tourism, Environment and Natural Resources and her colleagues to work extra hard to promote tourism and hospitality sectors as viable investment arenas which can generate profits and create jobs. Domestic tourism also does need vigorous promotion,” he said.
President Banda said Zambia is blessed to have 19 well-endowed national parks, 36 game management areas, and more than 20 magnificent waterfalls, including the famous and spectacular Victoria Falls.
“The challenge is for all of you to plan to visit and sample some of these natural wonders and motivate others to do so as well,” he said.
The President congratulated Sun International on attaining 10 years of active business with service in Zambia’s dynamic tourism industry.
“It is my hope and prayer that you will look to the future with a creative mentality, and also learn from mistakes and shortcomings of days gone by.
“Business is about people. Profits are about people. At a certain point, every investment must cater for the human development realities in the surrounding communities,” he said.
President Banda said every investment must recognise the value and importance of the surrounding communities.
“This is the meaning of corporate social responsibility. This is why I do not hesitate to applaud and commend Sun International for looking into surrounding communities and venturing out to make a real difference among our people. When you serve the needy, the profits will not be financial, but they will come in the form of heartfelt public goodwill. At the end of the day, as the Bible says, a good name is better than riches,” the President said.
He said he is inspired to see that Sun International has touched many lives through its rays of hope programme, which provides for economic empowerment and ecological conservation.