Zambia: Interview with Honorable Jean Kapata

Honorable Jean Kapata

Minister of Tourism & Arts (Ministry of Tourism & Arts)

Honorable Jean Kapata

The European and United States economies are facing very serious challenges. The Middle Eastern region does not offer a stable environment for business. Africa seems to be the next frontier for investment; how do you see Zambia within this context?


Africa seems to be attracting more and more investment. Within this context, Zambia seems to be doing quite well with a very fast growing economy. Tourism seems to be one of the promising sector of the country.


As a country, in 2012 we had about 800 059 tourists arrivals and in 2014, the number went up to 900 014, there was an increase in the arrivals of tourists in Zambia.


Are these figures monthly or annually?


These are annual records. We intend to record a further increase of tourist arrivals this year. The major reason for this is inadequate bed-spaces available in the country. At the moment there is an increase in the numbers of bed-space. We have had about 51,652 bed-spaces in 2012 and now we are at about 73,991 bed-spaces in 2013. We hope that with investment in this area of business, we can lengthen the stay of tourists.


The Tourism Sector has the potential to create a lot of jobs in sectors such as the airline industry and the hotel industry. It is in fact a promising sector. And for decades, tourism has somehow been under-minded and needs to become one of the shinning sectors. What are the main challenges within this promising sector, the opportunities, and what in your opinion can be the catalysis for this sector?


The challenges are quite many in this sector and one of them is the airline connectivity. We do not have direct flights into Zambia, and if we did, this would work out to be cheaper for the tourists and it will also save on time. And for that reason, what we need is proper connectivity to the world by having airlines that would fly directly into Zambia. In the recent past we have had some of the airlines pulling out of the country, these include KLM, British Airways. However we have great news- the Turkish Airline is soon coming here. Government is also working towards having a national airline for the country, which will go a long way in promoting tourism.


What are some of the reasons the airline companies pulled out?


Airlines like British Airways cited lack of profits as one of the reasons, because the demand was not high. Others were complaining about the high cost of jet fuel in Zambia.


Which particular regions or countries are you targeting to increase tourism interaction with Zambia?


As a Ministry we would like to tap into the Chinese market in terms of tourists. They have a large number of tourists. We are also working on partnering with Seychelles since they have an expanse of water but they do not have game parks. In Zambia we have about 20 game parks and therefore, when people visit the vast waters on the beaches of Seychelles, they could fly directly to Zambia and enjoy wildlife viewing. Zambia is in the process of signing a Memorandum of Understanding with Seychelles to implement this.


What other opportunities are there when it comes to business investment, perhaps with the private sector?


After having attended the Tourism Investment Meeting in Ethiopia, government is looking for investors to tap into the tourism potential. Currently, the tourist capital-Livingstone lacks a national convention centre, while it has pockets of land along the Zambezi River front, which investors can take advantage of to se up hotels and conference centres. Most of the potential investors we met in Ethiopia prefer to partner with local investors who can come in to build the infrastructure and they would come in with the brand of the hotel. We are also working with parasternal organizations like the National Pension Scheme Authority (NAPSA), who are interested in building infrastructure on behalf of the Ministry of Tourism.


The tourism industry seems to be costly for people in reference to hotel rates and travel costs; What are the major complaints concerning this matter?


Although people complained, government launched domestic tourism to allow Zambians sample the vast tourism potential the country has. You do not expect Zambian tourists to be able to pay so much and the operators must be able to have special rates or packages for locals to benefit from. We are also encouraging the Zambians to start saving to enable them have a holiday at least once per year.


We have seen that the sector has enormous potential. What are the up-coming programs to promote tourism in Zambia to the rest of the world and what kind of strategies are taking place for this?


For the first time this year Zambia will be having a Carnival. We are planning for this Carnival which will be held sometime in September, and it will include the cultural representation from all the ten provinces of the country. This Carnival will include the display of various traditional foods from parts of the country. Plans are also underway to ensure proper documentation and publicity of the works of the well-acclaimed Scottish Missionary-David Livingstone who died in Zambia. We are also looking for investors who can come in and invest in the place where his body was buried. We also want the locals in that area to benefit from this investment by being able to sell their local products likes drawings and carvings.


What would make Zambia a destination of choice for tourism such as counties like Kenya, Zimbabwe, and Tanzania? When it comes to wildlife, other countries are well known for it and yet Zambia has beautiful national parks and rivers that can be seen. How can you take advantage of this?


What I would like to state here is that Zambia is a heaven of peace because it has never been to war and offers a safe environment for tourists. I would therefore come and sample Zambian hospitality. We have 20 national parks, which have different species of animals, and some of them only indigenous to Zambia.


So come and see some of these indigenous animals that we have. We also have the Victoria Fall which we share with Zimbabwe and the bigger chunk of it is in Zambia, so I would really want to invite people to come and see this wonder, so come and sample our hospitality.