THE government is not listening to the Livingstone Tourism Association’s advice on strategies to grow the tourism sector, says a tourism expert Alexander Muthali. And Muthali says lodges and hotels in Zimbabwe’s Victoria Falls Town are fully booked up to October while Zambia’s tourism is struggling to survive. In an interview, Muthali, who is the immediate past board chairperson of the LTA, said several appeals to have Livingstone turned into a Multi-Facility Economic Zone (MFEZ) has not received positive government attention.
“Our friends across (Zimbabwe) are fast moving towards declaring Victoria Falls Town as a free tax economic zone. This tends to attract investors, especially in the tourism sector. In Zambia we have been advocating for this and the government has been saying they will do it. It has been on the tables for a long time and yet nothing is done,” he said. “Instead, we have increasingly become an expensive destination. Our friends across have their lodges and hotels fully booked until October,” Muthali said.
He said the taxation and visa regimes in Zambia were not helping development in the tourism sector. “With what we have in terms of taxes and the visa regime, we can’t become competitive in the region. We must know what our neighbours are doing in the tourism sector so that we can under-cut them. You have to know what your enemy, for a lack of a better word, is doing for you to do better,” he said. Muthali, who is also the vice-president of the Zambia Federation of Employers in-charge of Southern Province and also the acting chairperson of the Livingstone Loges and Guest Houses Association (LLGHA), said the government was slow in implementing certain policies. In February, at a National Tourism Strategy Workshop held in Victoria Falls Town, Zimbabwe’s immigration principal director Clement Masango announced a revised visa regime, which saw 28 countries being moved from Category C to B (visa on arrival) in a bid to unlock that country’s tourism potential and improve international tourist arrivals