The Government of Zambia, through the Ministry of Tourism and Arts, says the tourism sector remains one of the key sectors of growing the country’s economy and job creation.
Speaking during the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Zambian Government and the Republic of Israel in the Tourism Sector Conservation and Biodiversity of Wildlife in Zambia, Acting Tourism Minister Hon Elizabeth Phiri said the Zambian government in its national planning documents such as the Seventh National Development Plan has identified tourism as one of the priority sectors to grow the economy.
Hon Phiri, who is also Gender Minister, emphasized that tourism has the potential to significantly contribute to social economic development as an important source of jobs, prosperity and competitiveness, particularly in rural areas.
“Most of the tourism in Zambia is nature-based tourism, centered in National Parks and Game Management Areas, therefore the Zambian Government has seen the importance of securing and protecting wildlife through conservation. Nature-based tourism comprises approximately 80 percent of all tourist attractions in Zambia,” she said.
“Ladies and gentlemen, one of the key assets of Zambia include its pristine National Parks and Game Management Areas, which are home to a great diversity of wildlife and flora including the iconic species such as Lions, Elephants, Leopards and Rhinos. Zambia’s protected area system is approximately 236, 376 square kilometers representing about 31.4 percent of the country’s total area of 752, 614 square kilometers”.
She reminded the visitors from Israel that Zambia has 20 National Parks and 36 Game Management Areas, two wildlife sanctuaries and one bird sanctuary.
Hon Phiri stated that this protected area system has been dedicated to wildlife and biodiversity conservation and in order to preserve the natural heritage, as well as provide ecosystem services such as watershed protection.
“You may wish to know that ladies and gentlemen that Zambia is home to the mighty Victoria Falls, one of the seven natural wonders of the world and UNESCO Heritage site which is located in the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park in Livingstone. The magnificent Victoria Falls is a key selling point of Zambia as a tourist destination of choice,” said Hon Phiri.
“Further, the South Luangwa National Park is renowned for its abundant and diverse wildlife, scenic beauty and wilderness state. It is amongst the popular destinations in Africa offering four out of the big five (that is Lion, Elephant, Leopard, Buffalo and Rhino) except Rhino and is renowned for the most unique walking safaris in the whole Southern Region.”
The Acting Tourism and Arts Minister further said the call for Zambia and Israel to cooperate in the management of biodiversity and tourism was as a result of the agreement made during the March, 2017 State Visit of His Excellency President Dr. Edgar Lungu when he met Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of the State of Israel in Jerusalem where the two leaders instructed the Ministers of Tourism to meet for bilateral talks to discuss tourism collaboration.
And Israel Nature and Parks Authority Director General Shaul Goldfein said the signing of the MoU expresses strong commitment for strategic cooperation between the State of Israel and Zambia for conserving nature and wildlife.
Mr. Goldfein said there is obviously the difference between Israel and Zambia in size and the species of wildlife and that Israel will learn more about the way they can cooperate.