Seizing Job Creation Opportunities in Tourism
PF has done a lot wrong during its time in office. This includes their failure to match words with actions when it comes to job creation.
There are many areas in which we cannot only deliver economic growth, but also create jobs and help lift people out of poverty at the same time. As such we plan to roll out targeted interventions and channel investment into under-developed sectors if elected into office in August 2016.
Tourism is one clear area where there have been missed opportunities for too long, particularly for our youth. Looking at what some of our African neighbours have achieved in the tourism sector provides an insight into the opportunity. For example, in the Seychelles 15% of the formal workforce is directly employed in the tourism industry, which contributes 50% of GDP. Meanwhile, Mauritius earned US$1.35 billion from tourism in 2013, and 12% of GDP in Botswana, which like Zambia is endowed with rich mineral resources, comes from tourism.
Practical actions that we need to take to unlock the potential of the tourism sector include: working with airlines to set up new direct flights to Zambia; support for training initiatives that provide youths with the right skill-set for working in the industry; increased protection of national parks and wildlife; support for Zambian SMEs and start-ups working in the sector through mentorship programs; and, improved access to capital.
We also need to better promote the tourism sector to international audiences by strengthening the Zambian Tourism Board. After all we have unique attractions that we can use to increase visitor traffic. At the same time we need to address visa issues so that people can come in numbers, while supporting Zambian entities in the hospitality industry to attain international standards. Zambia boasts of 600,000 visitors annually, yet tourists are just about 150,000 of this number. That aside, why can’t we tap into the 14 million Zambians who would also like to tour the country?
In Zambia the contribution of tourism has remained fairly consistent at around 3% of GDP but the potential for much more is clear and government can open up the sector. If we look after our national parks and protect our wildlife then developments in our tourism sector can continue to deliver benefits and create jobs for generations to come.