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Tour operator bemoans ‘selective’ boat cruise rates

A TOUR operator has complained of selective rates for boat cruises at the international Rowing Regatta which was part of the Southern Zambia Tourism and Investment Expo.

And a letter inviting tourism businesses to be part of the Expo written a day before the event started at the Livingtsone Golf Club has angered tour operators.

In an interview, Zambezi River Lion King’s cruise boat manager Siasiloka Mukuni said the Zambia Tourism Agency (ZTA) and Livingstone Tourism Association (LTA) were sleeping.

“The organisers of the International Rowing Regatta came to us saying we should only charge up to K550 if we wanted to take tourists on the river to watch the regatta while some foreign owned boat companies were left to charge K1,100 so I refused. We cannot be treated like this in our own country when we pay the same rates and taxes,” Mukuni said.

He added that he called former LTA chairperson to seek guidance as he he could have been wrong in his perception but was answered that his observations were correct.

“It’s like the ZTA and LT have collapsed, we have leaders who are also in the hospitality and tourism industry and everything they do is to benefit their businesses. We need to change the way we do things. We all pay taxes and levies and our company is up-to-date with these,” Mukuni said.

He said it was also shocking to receive a letter on September 12 addressed to Mukuni Big Five asking the company to participate at the Expo running from September 13 to 21.

“We get a letter on 12th and the Expo is starting on 13, how do you brand a company in hours?…the other thing I have seen is that we as Zambians want to be parasites by waiting for other people through sponsoring events and we just jump in to be part of them,” Mukuni lamented.

He said the South Expo was headed for failure because someone had either politicised it or just wanted it to fail.

And a source, who is not allowed to give media interviews for Togambezi Lodge, said it was an insult to invite people to participate in the expo hours before the event when organising the same started over a year ago.

“We also got the letter and my director laughed saying it was an insult and stupidity for one to ask a company to participate and brand itself hours before the event. We need to be serious,” the source said.
According to the letter, the LTA was also asking for a donation of K6,073 as ‘capital contribution.’
“Participation to the South Zambia Tourism and Investment Expo 2019…the LTA will be part of this programme. This expo is designed to provide a platform to advance business interests, create meaningful linkages and hopefully pave way for other opportunities that may be mutually beneficial,” the letter signed by LTA chairperson Rodney Sikumba reads in part.

The LTA requested tour operators to participate by having a branded desk with four chairs and videos at the expo.

The association indicated that it would schedule management meetings for the participating companies.

“We therefore request a capital contribution of K6,073 for successful participation at this year’s expo,” the LTA stated.

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