From : Tourismupdate.co.za

26 October 2012

By : Dorine Reinstein

Tourism in Zambia is too expensive and the country is running the risk of losing out on tourist arrivals, according to European Union delegate to Zambia, Hervio Gilles. During a local radio interview, Gilles said Zambia would have to reduce the cost of tourism in order to maximise benefits in the sector and boost arrivals.

Karien Kermer, Owner Wild Side Tours & Safaris, says operators in Livingstone wouldn’t deny that Zambia is an expensive tourist destination. She adds however that costs are high because most items have to be imported from South Africa. She says: “Over the last couple of years, South Africa has become very expensive and Zambia has to add import duty and VAT for nearly all imports. Fuel is also more expensive than our neighbouring countries and so are most other things which make operating more expensive.”

The need to quote locally in Kwacha gives the perception that things are even more expensive, explains Graham Nel, MD of Safpar Zambia. He says foreigners don’t understand the value of the Kwacha, but the future rebasing of the Kwacha should assist slightly in negating these perceptions.

According to Nel, local tourism players are constantly pushing government to make Zambia more affordable in comparison to their neighbours. He says: “At the moment visitors end up spending less in Zambia as their budgets don’t allow them to do everything they would want to do. Because of this, local operators try to offer their products at the lowest possible price, and low priced ‘bargains’ can often be found.”