By ALICE NACHILEMBE
A Turkish tourism expert says Zambia possesses abundant tourism attractions needed to fascinate international tourists with unique experiences.
And 1,500 Zambians visited Turkey in 2019, representing a 40 percent increase compared to 2018.
Association of Turkish Travel Agencies (TURSAB) Corporate Affairs Director, Gulberk Asyapar said Zambia with its diverse tourism attractions offered all that was needed to fascinate its visitors with unique experiences.
She was speaking during a virtual presentation to TURSAB affiliate members dubbed ‘Destination Zambia.’ The webinar was jointly organised by the Embassy of the Republic of Zambia in Turkey and the Zambia Tourism Agency (ZTA).
Ms Gulberk also said there was growing interest by Turkish tourists to visit Zambia.
“In 2019, we hosted nearly 1,500 Zambian guests with an increase of 40 percent compared to the previous year, unfortunately these numbers were much lower in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” she said.
She expressed happiness with the existing strong bilateral relations between Zambia and Turkey.
“Tourism is one of the major fields we expect high potential for growth,” she said.
She also expressed concern that the COVID-19 pandemic had negatively affected the world economy.
“Unfortunately, one of the sectors that have been adversely affected is tourism, we hope the entire world will overcome this turmoil through international solidary and promotional activities,” she said.
She said TURSAB would continue working with Zambia to promote tourism and to enhance relations between the two countries.
Chargé d Affaires at the Zambian Mission in Turkey, Stephen Mwenya said the Government of Zambia under the leadership of Dr Edgar Lungu, had placed tourism high on its development agenda.
Mr Mwenya said the Zambian Government had recognized the sector as a key engine for development, economic diversification and job creation in line with the aspirations of the Seventh National Development Plan (7NDP).
He said Zambia remains a tourism destination of choice on the African continent due to abundant tourism attractions, peace, political stability and the friendly Zambian people.
Mr Mwenya was concerned that Zambia’s tourism sector like the rest of the world, had not been spared by the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said in an effort to revive the sector in the short and medium term, the Zambian Government had formulated the Economic Recovery Programme (ERP) for the period 2020-2023.
Mr Mwenya said the ERP was aimed at restoring macroeconomic stability and to reinvigorate growth.
“In respect of tourism, the Government has provided tax relief measures and incentives to sustain the sector,” Mr Mwenya said.
He said Zambia looks forward to learning best practices from Turkey in the field of tourism and institutions like TURSAB played a vital role.
Mr Mwenya urged ZTA and TURSAB to consider establishing a predictable framework of co-operation through signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on co-operation in tourism promotion between the two countries.