The Zambia government is keen to promote domestic tourism, but how is that going to happen? Domestic tourism can be either citizen or resident. Many residents visit the parks and go on holidays. So we need to look at citizens.
The other day I read an article in a newspaper about Kafue National Park. It said:
“The Kafue National Park is the largest in Zambia, covering an area of about 22,480 square kilometers. It is the second largest park in Africa and is home to more than 55 different species of animals.
“Kafue National Park is the oldest and largest national park in Zambia. It was proclaimed on April 28, 1950 by Government Notice Number 108 of 1950 under the Game Ordinance, Chapter 106 of the Laws of Zambia. Its National Park status was underlined on February 25, 1972 under the National Parks and Wildlife Act and the original proclamation was revised on April 16, 1993, in Statutory Instrument No. 58 of 1993 establishing it as National Park No. 11, according to Zambia Wildlife Authority, 2010.”
The article went on for ages about 2½ pages in the same vein.
Absolutely no one who reads the article is going to be enthused about a visit to Kafue National Park. So our first job is to get journalists into the parks so that they can write from the heart and not regurgitations from stock articles.
The second, and biggest, problem is that most of our parks have lost their low-cost facilities. Most parks used to have camps like the ones in Zimbabwe. But they have gone – they have all become ZAWA Camps. Notable examples are Lochinvar Lodge and Ngoma Lodge. I have met very few Zambians who will happily pile a tent into their car and go off into the bush. In fact, when I chat to friends, they laugh at me and my trips. It is totally beyond their comprehension that I can pitch my tent in the middle of the bush and have a good time.
So, we need low-cost chalets to be constructed in the parks. The Wildlife Society has a few camps, which are generally used by school children… from private schools…, but we need more.
Thirdly, the costing structure has to be revised. For years the rates have been “designed” to maximize income. Residents are classed as “foreigners” and are expected to pay more. Other countries put residents and citizens together, which is much fairer. Residents live and work under the same economic conditions as citizens. There is no reason to class them differently. In fact, for us in Livingstone, residents tend to feel offended when we are expected to pay US$15 per person to go into the Mosi-oa-Tunya Park for a couple of hours. It is residents who are likely to bring “friends and family” to Zambia to visit, so their appreciation of the parks has to be promoted by lower fees.