Hosting UNWTO: The Benefits To Rural Tourist Attraction Centres

Applemax Falls

Story By Chimuka Moono Hanyama and Pictures By Owen Miyanza

The World Tourism Organization is the leading International Organization in the field of travel and Tourism.

It serves as a global forum for tourism policy issues and a practical source of tourism know-how.

UNWTO has more than 350 Affiliate Members representing local government, tourism associations and private sector companies, including airlines, hotel groups and tour operators.

With its headquarters in Madrid, WTO is an inter-governmental body entrusted by the United Nations with the promotion and development of tourism. This year in August, Zambia and Zimbabwe are going to co-host the general assembly of this important United Nations body. This is going to be an opportunity for  individuals, companies, and government departments who are involved in the tourism and hospitality industry to showcase their facilities and services.

town 1There is going to be a trickle down effect to those who will not directly participate in this important event.

Painting going on at Pepe on Saturday

Painting going on at Pepe on Saturday

Plenty of preparations have been undertaken to prepare for this General Assembly.

Livingstone city has seen a lot of face lifting in terms of infrastructure and services as it is the place where the hive of activities will be.

The important question however is, how will the rural tourist attraction potential benefit from the host of UNWTO?

How much has been done to upgrade the tourism potential in rural Zambia, where most of the artifacts lying in the Livingstone and Lusaka museums were collected from?

Tourists at the Victoria Falls on Sunday, July 28, 2013

Tourists from the US at the Victoria Falls on Sunday, July 28, 2013

Will these areas in turn receive face lifting, or that is a preserve of Livingstone where the home of Victoria falls?

These questions to some sound ease and petty yet to those of us that have travelled to rural tourist attraction centers in Zambia, we shall find them pricking.

The rural centers have since been left to the treatment of Mother Nature, some of them are at the threat of extinction as they are turned into farmlands.

One other thing evident in these far off areas is the fact that roads are poor. A tourist has to really see need to visit such an area with so much difficulties associated with it.

Those of us that have gone to Gwisho Hotspring in Monze’s Lochnivar National Park will vividly know what I am talking about. Not only do these areas have poor roads, but are mostly devoid of the attraction itself. The reason is because there has been little or no maintenance from the authorities responsible.

Ingombe Ilede Historical Site

Ingombe Ilede Historical Site – Achieve Photo

Some days ago, I talked about a place famously written in books, Ingombe Ilede, in the Gwembe Valley.  This and many other rural lying tourist attraction centers have suffered lack of recognition after being reaped off of their valuable artifacts to be taken to  areas where their names are spoken by foreign tongues.

Broken Hillman is one good example, whose Skull is not even found in the national museum, save for the good replicas that have been created to show to the visitors.

One factor is clear, that the department of National Heritage lack capacity and potential to revamp the condition of the rural tourist attraction centers.

To enable penetration of tourists to these far off and impassable parts of the country where tourist attractions are found, it needs a versatile approach to let the private sector get involved.

Surely, tourists need security, they need to stay connected to the rest of the world even as they are in Lochivar, or elsewhere. Not only that, they also need comfortable accommodation and other services as they continue staying in these rural places. This is a background which the organizers of the UNWTO did not really consider.

The Victoria Falls Road has been worked on

The Victoria Falls Road has been worked on

Instead, we have seen a versatile approach in campaigns aiming at showing Livingstone, a place which is already known to the World. Instead of showing the potential that lies around the countryside, we see the already known Victoria falls!

Of course, this is a good marketing strategy to build confidence and allow more people attend the conference, but what will then follow after? This question will remain here begging for a response.

The platform was found, but the authorities have decided to continue ignoring the potential of rural centers in boosting the tourism industry in Zambia.

We know some proceeds from the General Assembly may be used to develop these areas, yet it would have been better to let these areas run their  campaign at the general assembly.

This way, they were going to become a public issue than a private one they are now. We need tourists to visit Luano, Mafinga, Kalomo, Kalambo, Mongu, and any other area where there is tourism potential.

This role remains the baby of the planners to allow the public and private organizations get involved. If this is done, we shall with pride talk about the booming tourism industry in Zambia.

Time is still there, those that are organizing the activities at the General Assembly have power to decide to include or forget about rural tourist attraction centers. It’s a choice whose consequences the generations will live to bear.