TOURISM Minister Rodney Sikumba says the upcoming N’cwala traditional ceremony is already over-subscribed as most lodging facilities have been fully booked.

And Sikumba has encouraged the business community to take advantage of the ceremony, adding that his ministry is working with other line ministries to ensure the safety of everyone.

In an interview, Sikumba said the oversubscription indicated that the majority of those attending the event were locals, further describing it as exciting.

“The event if I can use the word it is already overly subscribed. You will not find accommodation right now. Most of the places are fully booked, [which] simply means that the locals are the ones that are going to be in the numbers at the event. Which obviously is exciting it being the first ceremony of the year and in the next few weeks or months we will be talking about the Kuomboka [ceremony] of Western Province. So we have an opportunity. Based on how we launched our domestic strategy, we are encouraging people to start visiting these places. So if you look at how the Eastern Province is, they have an opportunity to go to South Luangwa National Park as they are attending the ceremony. As they go to Western Province they should have an opportunity to go to Liuwa national park if not the Sioma Ngwezi national park,” he said.

And Sikumba encouraged the business community to take advantage of the ceremony.

“I think my advice for them is just to cash in. They just need to cash in, make money and that’s all. Take advantage; find a niche, see what you can possibly do around those places. I know the hotel owners have already cashed in now, we are looking at these other people who normally trade in small little items here and there. They should be able to look into the aspect as well so that they are able to make a bit of money from the event,” he said.

Meanwhile, Sikumba said his ministry was working with other line ministries to ensure the safety of the people.

“Our cross-functional teams, Ministry of Health as well as Ministry of Transport and Logistics, we are working towards ensuring that the safety of visitors within Mtenguleni is guaranteed. We have seen a surge in these road accidents and you know how far Chipata is and how people get excited along the way. So we are working to ensure that people don’t find themselves in road traffic accidents. Furthermore, you heard my colleague Hon Silvia Masebo talking about people getting vaccinated as well as Covid advisor to the President. So we advise a lot of people knowing how much the crowd the ceremony pulls, it is always important to keep safe. So if you are coming for the N’cwala at least get vaccinated so that you do not pose a risk to the other visitors,” said Sikumba.