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Saturday, 10 October 2009

Is our tourism policy flawed?

That is the impression one gets from this editorial piece from the Times of Zambia :

Why, for example, should tourist bookings and reservations for a visit to Zambia be done offshore using foreign booking agents when the same can be done by ably qualified Zambian companies. Tourists are simply flown into the country with foreign tour guides and they come in to enjoy the facilities while the bulk of the money remains in offshore accounts of foreign companies.

The little money that remains in the country is usually from entry charges to view the Victoria Falls or animals in a game park. While it is appreciated that ours is a liberalised economy, it should also be borne in mind that more economic development could only be achieved if the available capital is quickly re-invested in other ventures.

As Ms Mung'omba said, the privatisation process did not empower Zambians because citizens did not have money to buy the companies, and those that attempted ended up selling the firms to foreigners. The process left citizens dis-empowered. Ms Mung'omba has a point when she says before foreign investors externalise their money, the profits could be used to empower the citizens. It is important that what Ms Mung'omba is saying is considered so that Zambians can also see and feel the benefits of foreign investment.
One suspects the Minister of Tourism, Catherine Namugala does not share this assessment. Earlier this year in defence of the government removal of "illegal squatters" from the Prime Wildlife Areas of Sichifulo Game Management Area, she trumpted the "job creation" and "foreign exchange" benefits. [For the avoidance of doubt, additional foreign exchange is not a benefit - its simply Kwacha converted into foreign money. One never feels they are better off by swapping Kwachas into US $ at an airport].

2 comments:

  1. Ms Mung'omba has a point when she says before foreign investors externalise their money, the profits could be used to empower the citizens. It is important that what Ms Mung'omba is saying is considered so that Zambians can also see and feel the benefits of foreign investment.

    Is she talking about restraints on capital flight? Like the ones that helped China build it's thriving economy?

    The purpose of Zambia's economy policy should not be the creation of a one world corporate economy, but the development of the Zambia economy.

    ReplyDelete
  2. "Why, for example, should tourist bookings and reservations for a visit to Zambia be done offshore using foreign booking agents when the same can be done by ably qualified Zambian companies."

    Could be the proximity of the booking companies to the customers and also name recognition. In other words, the Zambian companies do not have a presence in those foreign countries where the tourists come from, and the tourists do not know them as well as the major travel companies in their countries.

    ReplyDelete

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