Africa > East Africa > Zambia > Zambia Tourism Profile

Zambia: Zambia Tourism Profile


Zambia - Travel Guide and Travel Info


Visit Zambia campaign attracts tourists

Despite the global financial crisis, the number of tourists visiting Zambia continues to increase. Even a rise in visa fees for inbound tourists in early 2014 did not deter the country from recording a 5% increase in the number of tourists visiting the country, with incoming tourism earnings growing by almost 8%.
This growth can be attributed to the fact that an increasing number of people are being attracted to the country. The government has recognised the importance of marketing in achieving its tourism objectives and has introduced the “Visit Zambia Campaign 2005-2010” to promote and market the country internationally. 
Located in the heart of sub-Saharan Africa, Zambia’s game parks are a major draw for tourists. There are three main safari areas – the Luangwa Valley, the Lower Zambezi and northern Kafue region.Hot springs
Kafue National Park is only a day’s drive from Livingstone. The town's proximity to the Zambezi River also makes it a popular base for travellers today.
Founded in 1905 and named after the Victorian explorer David Livingstone, this was Zambia’s capital until 1935.

Key attraction for thrill-seekers

The Zambezi river is a key attraction for visitors. For thrill-seekers, the river offers river-boarding, bungee jumping and whitewater rafting.

Safari by canoe

Along the Lower Zambezi, hippos, elephants, zebra, impala, buffalo, waterbuck, baboons and crocodiles can be seen along the banks.
The Batoka Gorge is particularly popular, with its 23 rapids and dramatic sheer black cliffs.
For visitors who want to enjoy wider scenery and at a slower pace, canoe safaris run along stretches of the Upper Zambezi and along the Lower Zambezi, where there are national parks on both sides.

Smoke that thunders

However, the river’s best-known attraction is Victoria Falls, located roughlyVictoria Falls, by John Walker [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons midway along the Zambezi at the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe.
These spectacular falls span the entire breadth of the river at one of its widest points. Here, the water plunges down over 100 metres. Although the river’s flow varies by season, on average, 935 cubic metres of water go over the precipice every second.
The Makololo people refer to the falls as Mosi-oa-Tunya. This means the ‘smoke that sounds/thunders’ because of the mist and roar of the water. As the first westerner to come upon the area, Livingstone described “scenes so lovely [they] must have been gazed upon by angels in their flight”. He named the falls after Queen Victoria.

Getting around

Buses/coaches provide transport between the major towns and minibuses or taxis (painted blue) offer local rides. For travelling cross-country, a 4x4 vehicle is a must. Roads can be heavily pot-holed and fewer than half are tarred or graveled.
Visitors normally arrive in Zambia by air or rail, but the most leisurely way to enter the country is on Lake Tanganykia. The MV Liemba, one of the oldest operating steam ships and a former German vessel from World War I, runs from Bujumbura in Burundi, via Kigoma in Tanzania to the port of Mpulungu in Zambia.

Investment in hospitality sector propels tourism growth

Large-scale investment in Zambia’s hospitality sector has contributed to the rapid growth within the travel and tourism industry, with, for example, hotel numbers increasing by 28% between 2000 and 2008. Although the amount of investment in the sector was just ZMK9 billion in 2000, this figure has increased rapidly, now standing at an annual average of around ZMK65 billion, as a result of strong investment in the construction and upgrading of hotels and other accommodation establishments in the country. If well harnessed, investment projects in hotels should help to continue to drive economic development in Zambia.

Regional and international players dominate travel and tourism market

Air transport, hotel, car rental, and travel retail businesses are all critical to the development of the travel and tourism industry in Zambia. With the exception of travel retail, the market for the other three sectors is mostly dominated by regional and international companies. For example, air transport is dominated by Kenya Airways, Ethiopian Airlines, South African Airways, and British Airways whilst the major players in the hotel sector include Taj Pamodzi, Sun International Hotel Group, Intercontinental Hotel, and Protea Hotel Group, with the Garden Group of Hotels being the only major local company active in Zambia. Avis, Europcar, and Imperial Car Rental dominate the car rental market.
Air deal with UK improves links with Europe
The governments of Zambian and the UK have signed a bilateral Air Services Agreement (ASA) to allow airlines from Europe and southern Africa unrestricted access to enter each other’s markets. The agreement, which is expected to boost long-haul flights between Europe and Zambia, includes Fifth Freedom Traffic Rights, Code Sharing, as well as Third Country Sharing elements. Air services between Britain and Zambia have been operating since the 1960s. British Airways currently services the Zambian route and provides a vital direct link between Zambia, the UK, and Europe.

New themed resorts expected to attract foreign visitors

The travel and tourism sector has the potential to make a significant impact on the Zambian economy, creating jobs, and helping to reduce poverty. The government is planning to develop new tourism resorts so as to attract more foreign visitors to the country. One potential area for development is Kasaba Bay, which needs to be developed in order to foster the development of tourism in the Northern and Luapula circuits. Other tourism support projects in the area include road rehabilitation, hotel construction, and the electrification of key areas in tourism resort areas.
The tourism opportunities are also open to the goods and services providers in tourism enterprises such safaris and hotels. And yet others are in the airline industry, farming and agro-business that supply food, car hire services, curio and handicrafts manufacturing, fuel stations, tourists’ shops, and the list goes on and on…
The Zambian government has recognized this and has now placed emphasis on developing Zambian Tourism . For a start Livingstone town has become a tax free zone for investments in tourism enterprises. As an incentive for local car hire and tour operators the government has waived visa fees to tourists that they bring in.
To make tourism succeed many organization have been put in place. These are the
  • Zambia National Tourist Board (ZNTB),
  • Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA),
  • Tourism Council of Zambia (TCZ),
  • National Heritage Conservation Commission (NHCC),
  • The Environmental Council of Zambia (ECZ)
  • and, of course, the Ministry of Tourism, Environment and Natural Resources.
These players have different functions.
Ministry of Tourism, Environment and Natural Resources
This government ministry deals with policy issues and ensures a level-paying field for all parties involved. Matters dealing with the law and investment in tourism may be channeled through the ministry.
Zambia National Tourist Board (ZNTB)
This is a government department charged with the responsibility of marketing and licensing tourism enterprises. They deal with implementation of government policy and registration of enterprises in the tourism industry. Click here for the description of their functions . ZNTB markets Zambian tourism abroad and locally. Check their web site by clicking here . As part of its function ZNTB provides information on the Zambian tourism sector and other related activities such accommodation, national parks, game management areas, etc. They are custodians of information on infrastructure in areas of tourist attractions. They keep information on areas that have been earmarked for the development in tourism.
Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA)
This is another department in the ministry. ZAWA manages the 19 national parks and the 34 game management areas. In total these areas constitute 30 percent of Zambia’s land. ZAWA’s conservation policy aims at contributing to the preservation of the national parks and game management areas by maintaining a sustainable eco-tourism to save Zambia’s economy and wildlife. ZAWA employs game rangers to fight poaching and control the wildlife population. To date ZAWA has managed to reduce the poaching index from 1.0 to 0.5. An index of 1.0 means that the game rangers, when on tours in the bush, find either poachers, their camp or a carcass of an animal.
National Heritage Conservation Commission (NHCC)
This is the third department under the ministry. This department is responsible for identifying national heritage monuments and sites, registering and protecting them. For example they identified the Victoria Falls as national heritage site and went further to have it recognized by the world heritage body under United Nations. Today the Victoria Falls is a world heritage site and protected by the UN.
When a site has been recognized and gazetted the NHCC recommends to ZNTB for its use as a sustainable tourist attraction. NHCC ensures that any development that takes on and about the heritage site does not destroy, spoil or disfigure it.
Environmental Council of Zambia (ECZ)
As the fourth department of the ministry the ECZ deals with environmental concerns. No investment will be allowed to take place unless the investment plan addresses the environmental concerns.
What then is the ZNTB’s focus on tourism today? The world tourism industry is expanding at a very fast pace. Popular of these tourism segments are,
  • 1. Avi-tourism also known as birding (or bird watching) is the fastest growing segment at 18 percent worldwide. In Zambia a whopping 741 birds species have been recorded
  • 2. Adventure tourism involving adventure activities such as water sport, bungi jumping , abseiling, 4x4 driving, scuba diving , etc. Adventure tourism is also growing in popularity. It is for this reason that the Livingstone area has become Southern Africa Adventure Centre . Wildlife safari, the old faithful tourism. This includes walking safari, game drives, birding, fishing, game hunting, etc.
  • Cultural tourism involving art, crafts, traditions, and the heritage of a particular community. Key in this area are the traditional ceremonies that 31 tribes hold annually.
  • 3. Beach tourism involving water sports and beach games. Lake Bangweulu in Northern Zambia has lots of white sands on the lake shore
  • However, to be able to enjoy tourism there is need to travel . And so the travel industry is a partner. So also is the hospitality sector (accommodation and cuisine) as another partner. The Zambian tourism also requires the expansion of the transport infrastructure. Many opportunities in this area exist.