Zambia’s tourism sector is experiencing a recovery after enduring significant losses during the COVID-19 pandemic. A survey by the Ministry of Tourism revealed that the sector was operating at only 15% capacity, resulting in substantial revenue loss and job cuts.
However, with the lifting of travel restrictions, Zambia’s tourism capital, Livingstone, has seen a 70% increase in visitors. Tourists are once again visiting attractions such as Victoria Falls, known as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.
Zambia offers other enticing destinations, such as Kasanka National Park, where about 10 million fruit bats migrate annually, and Lagoon National Park, known for its diverse bird species.
The United Nations World Tourism Organization predicts that the international travel and hospitality industry will return to pre-pandemic levels, with double the number of people traveling abroad in the first quarter of 2023 compared to the same period in 2022.
In 2019, tourism contributed approximately $849 million to Zambia’s economy, accounting for 3.7% of the country’s gross domestic product.
The return of international visitors is a positive development for tourism operators like Chipasha Mapoma, who has observed a significant increase in visitor numbers. However, challenges such as geopolitical instability, staffing shortages, and the potential impact of the cost-of-living crisis on tourism should be monitored, according to UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili.