Minister of Tourism and Arts Ronald Chitotela says he will soon engage the Ministry of Justice to ensure that a common position that sustains the environment is found on mining in the Lower Zambezi National Park.
And Chitotela has announced that a total of K40 million has been collected through Tourism Levy since its introduction in 2017.
Meanwhile, Chitotela has assured stakeholders that government is willing to work with the private sector to build capacity among locals and reduce the amount of imports of various products in the tourism sector.
Speaking during a breakfast meeting with tourism sector stakeholders in Lusaka, Wednesday, Chitotela said he would soon engage the Ministry of Justice to ensure a common position was found that sustained the environment on mining in the Lower Zambezi National Park.
“Once local communities see the benefits of tourism through participation, they will be the first to protect against and even to protest against concerns, even those coming from proposed mining activities in the protected areas, for example, the Lower Zambezi National Park. I think yesterday (Tuesday), I met some of the concerned citizens and I assured them that we will be engaging our partners Ministry of Justice, bearing in mind that the petition was done before the revision of the Wildlife Act of 2015 and Ministry of Mines, and now the Ministry of Environment and Water Development, which is now the parent ministry for the Environmental Council (Zambia Environmental Management Agency) to making sure that we find a common position that sustains the environment. You are well aware that the Patriotic Front is a people-centered government, we believe that the voice of reason, the voice of the people is a very strong voice! The local communities are better placed to fight wildlife crimes through the participatory approach,” Chitotela said.
He challenged tourism industry stakeholders to invest locally to build the economy and reduce the perception cost of the tourism industry in Zambia.
“And I want to also assure you that we are not just challenging you to do that, we are doing our part as government. Just three days ago, I was in a serious discussion, during the memorial service for late president Sata, I had a serious interaction with the Minister of Finance (Dr Bwalya Ng’andu) who also expressed desire to make sure that we come up with incentives we can extend to the tourism sector so that we can grow the industry. As much as we are trying to do that as government to create an enabling environment for the tourism industry to flourish, I would also want to challenge you to invest back, locally, so that together, we can build this economy and we can reduce the perception cost of the tourism industry in Zambia,” he said.
“I am further informed that the situation analysis for the development of the tourism master plan revealed that Zambia is branded a high cost destination partially due to the high use of imported materials in our accommodation and establishments. Let me be quick to mention that, as government, we want to invite you to work with us in addressing the challenges through building our local capacities. Imagine if today, we can find a local Zambian company and give them the order, those that are in the hotel and lodge industry, to manufacture beds for us, obviously, the cost of doing business in the tourism industry will reduce.”
Meanwhile, Chitotela announced that K40 million had so far been collected through the Tourism Levy since its introduction in 2017.
“A total amount of K40 million has been collected through the Tourism Levy broken down as follows: in 2017, we collected K10.8 million against the Yellow Book of K11 million, representing 98 per cent and then in 2018, we collected K16 million against the Yellow Book allocation of K11 million, representing 146 per cent; in 2019, the Yellow Book allocation was K13.8 million; as at the month of August, we had collected K12.7 million, representing 92 per cent and we are confident that we are going to hit the target,” said Chitotela.
And Tourism Council of Zambia (TCZ) chairperson Vincent Mupwaya said the council had been overwhelmed by intense pressure due to the controversial mining project in the Lower Zambezi.