Zambia Tourism and Art Minister committed to UNWTO
Zambia’s Tourism and arts minister, Honourable Charles Rommel Banda has pledged government commitment towards making the tourism sector a key contributor to the country’s economy, poverty alleviation and job creation.
Hon. Banda disclosed this during a high level meeting with United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) Secretary General Dr. Taleb Rifai in the resort city of Luxor in Egypt on Sunday. The Hon. Minister is in Egypt attending UNWTO 104th Executive Council meeting.
During the meeting the Minister briefed the Secretary-General on the re-election of His Excellency President Edgar Chagwa Lungu and his announcement made to transform the Ministry of Tourism and Arts from a social to an economic Ministry.
The Minister informed the Secretary-General that it was within the ruling Patriotic Front Party’s development agenda as announced during the opening of the current sitting of Parliament by President Lungu to develop the tourism sector and use it as a means of poverty alleviation and wealth creation.
“Our aim to increase the tourism sector’s contribution from the current four (4) percent contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to about eight (8) percent. The tourism sector can play a big role in employment creation, poverty alleviation and economic development,” Hon Banda said.
The Minister also briefed the UNWTO chief on the tourism policy changes that the government is implementing.
Zambia’s new tourism policy, the revision of the Tourism and Hospitality Act No. 23 of 2007 and the Zambia Tourism Board Act No. 24 of 2007, and that the two Acts had been merged to form the new Tourism and Hospitality Act No. 13 of 2015. The new Act had brought about a new marketing wing with additional functions of licensing, inspection, grading and classification of tourism enterprises, functions previously performed by the Department of Tourism in the Ministry of Tourism and Arts.
The Hon. Minister also briefed the Secretary-General on the transformation of the former Zambia Wild Life Authority into the Department of National Parks and Wildlife in the Ministry of Tourism and Arts. This change is meant to ensure that the institutions that looks after Zambia’s wildlife operates efficiently and effectively. This has been done by Parliament passing the Zambia Wildlife Act No. 14 of 2015 and further disclosed that the National Parks and Wildlife policy of 1998 was also under review.
The Hon. Minister also thanked the Secretary General for his unwavering support to Zambia especially the technical and financial support received through the UNWTO/ST-EP initiative.
And Secretary-General Dr. Rifai has congratulated Hon. Banda on his appointment to the tourism portfolio and reiterated his continued support for Zambia.
The UNWTO chief hailed the policy direction Zambia had taken and supported the move as an effective approach in addressing challenges of unemployment and poverty alleviation.
“Hon. Minister, a lot of countries have depended on raw materials and mineral exports which eventually run out, we welcome the policy your government has taken because tourism lasts forever as long as you take care of it.” Said Dr. Rifai