President Edgar Lungu says tourism will be boosted by the rising disposable income in Africa.

Speaking during the opening of the UNWTO International Conference on Promoting Sustainable Tourism at Government Complex in Lusaka today, President Lungu said the rising middleclass in Africa would boost intra-regional travel.

“Tourism is an important contributor to sustainable economic growth for many reasons some of which include: its capacity to significantly contribute to gross domestic product, decent employment and export earnings; its propensity to significantly contribute to inclusive growth by supporting the poor and vulnerable people particularly women and youth; its capacity to generate and spread incomes thereby reducing poverty at all levels; with rising disposable incomes, leading to more resources for leisure and travel which boosts business travel, tourism undoubtedly is becoming more and more attractive with a positive forecast. It is expected that international tourists to Africa will continue to grow reaching 134 million arrivals by 2030 as estimated by the UNWTO; and globally, most international travel take place within a traveler’s own region. With a rising African middle class and with the continental disposable income increasing thereby creating a greater scope for boosting continental and intra-regional travel in Africa,” President Lungu said.

He said tourism was essential to improving the lives of people.

“Current statistics from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)’s 2017 economic development in Africa report, indicate that tourism generates 10 percent of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP) and 30 percent of the world trade in services.
Over 200 million jobs are created as a result of tourism. This shows that the sector is indeed key to the growth of economies and improvement of livelihoods in many countries. In addition, tourism plays a crucial role in enhancing conservation and financing the preservation of natural and cultural heritage, as well as contributing to social inclusion in destinations,” he said.

“With this positive growth occurring in Africa, there is need to further harness the tourism potential for the sector to continue contributing to inclusive growth, structural transformation and the attainment of SDGs. This can only happen by adopting policies that strengthen inter-sectoral linkages to boost intra-regional tourism and promote peace. I am delighted to note that Africa has realised the vital role that tourism plays in promoting sustainable development. This can be seen in the African Union’s agenda 2063 and the tourism action plan under the New Partnership for Africa’s Development.”

President Lungu said Zambia recognised tourism as a critical tool for sustainable development.

“Bringing the tourism narrative closer to home; Zambia has recognised this sector as a critical tool for sustainable development. We have designated tourism as one of the top three economic sectors besides agriculture and mining to drive the national economic diversification programme and ensure the country’s long term economic sustainability we have set apart from agriculture and mining. My government intends to ride on this capacity by increasing investment in the tourism industry and ensuring that the investment yields desired results that benefit all,” said President Lungu.

“You will note that while other sectors suffered setbacks from economic challenges in recent years, tourism in Zambia remained resilient contributing to the country’s Gross Domestic Product, as we have heard from Madam [Bernadette] Deka, whether it is Mrs or Miss I don’t know but Madam Deka, at the rate of 3.4 percent in 2016. I am glad to note that in 2017, Zambia has made great strides to foster unprecedented long-term growth by embarking on a vigorous marketing of Zambian tourism products to help us tap into the global market share…I wish to extend my sincere gratitude to the UNWTO high level delegation led by the Secretary General Dr Taleb Rifai visiting Zambia to mark the commemoration of the UNWTO 2017 international year of sustainable tourism for development.”

Meanwhile, Dr Rifai observed that Zambia was one of the best tourist destinations.