ANDREW MUKOMA writes
ZAMBIAN Association of Indigenous Tour Operators (ZATO), an organisation which represents the interest of local tour operators, has appealed to the new government to consider creating attractive incentives that will grow the tourism industry.
According to ZATO, the previous regimes had not prioritized local operators but opted to deal with foreign entities which resulted in its members being side-lined.
ZATO president, Parson Chifumbe, observed that members were the key players in the country’s destination marketing as compared to the foreigners whom the previous government favoured.
Dr Chifumbe said this was so because most of marketing and packaging of the country’s tourism activities were done by local tour operators and not those owned by foreign entities.
“So, we want the new government to recognize and prioritize us as destination management companies under the Zambian Association of Indigenous Tour Operators. For a long time, our role as local operators has not been recognized by government even when we are the ones that do the packaging for all the industry players.
“If government wants to help the tourism industry grow, then it must deal with destination managing companies who are our members. This is by creating attractive incentives for us,” Dr Chifumbe said.
He explained that currently, the foreign entities that government has been siding with, were paying less taxes compared to the local operators.
“We expect the new government of President Hakainde Hichilema and the UPND to begin to look at local tour operators differently by giving us a listening ear with a better incentives.
“As Zambians and a country, we do not just need to own the resources but own the industry too. It’s on this back ground that we seek to have audience with the incoming Minister of tourism as soon as possible, to share views and thoughts on how to make tourism a great contributor to the National Gross domestic product, as we move forward,” he said.
And Board of Trustees member, Phiri Mambo, encouraged the new government to send in the foreign missions as first secretaries people who have an idea of the country’s tourism industry.
Mr Mambo said some people in foreign mission were failing to market the country’s tourism industry and what it offers.