THE Copperbelt Province is synonymous with mining, but this is slowly changing with the growth of other sectors such as the tourism industry.
The province, which is endowed with rich mineral resources, also has the potential to become one of the preferred tourist destinations in Zambia.
According to the Copperbelt Tourism Committee (CTC), the province has more than 50 untapped tourist attractions which must be packaged and marketed on the local and international markets.
It is for this reason Government is now promoting mining tourism on the Copperbelt to woo tourists to the province.
Mining tourism encompasses tourists visiting the mining houses that are on the Copperbelt to learn about their operations and history.
Some mines such as Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) have a mine museum, where tourists can see and learn what happens underground.
It also has the largest open-pit mine in Zambia called the Nchanga Open Pit.
Tourists can also visit Bwana Mkubwa Mine in Ndola, which is the oldest mine in Zambia and learn about its history.
To package and market these products, the Zambia Tourist Board (ZTB) in 2013 established the Copperbelt Tourism Committee comprising individuals from the Kitwe District Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KDCCI), Kitwe City Council (KCC) and other key stakeholders.
Committee chairperson Raj Karamchand is brimming with optimism. He says the future of tourism looks bright on the Copperbelt.
“We have the mining sector, which we can package as a tourist attraction. In short we want to promote mine tourism here on the Copperbelt.We have mines such as Konkola Copper Mines, Mopani Copper Mines and Luanshya Copper Mines among others which tourists can visit and learn about mining,” he said.
Mr Karamchand said the mines on the Copperbelt are willing to work with the committee to promote mine tourism to attract tourists to the province. He is, however, concerned about the many tourist attractions that remain unexploited in the province.
Apart from the mines, the Copperbelt has other tourist attractions such as the Chembe Bird Sanctuary in Kalulushi, Chimfunshi Wildlife Orphanage in Chingola and Mindolo Dam in Kitwe. Others are Mwekera Fish Camp off the Kitwe-Ndola dual carriage way and a museum in Chingola.
“We have more than 50 untapped tourist attractions here on the Copperbelt, which we are trying to package as tourist attractions but we need guidelines on how best we can do it,” Mr Karamchand said. He said the Copperbelt receives many foreigners who visit the mines and can be lured into seeing the other tourist attractions that are in the province.
He, however, said the biggest challenge the committee is facing is packaging the tourist attractions and marketing them on the local and international markets.
“We need financial support from the Zambia Tourism Board. The board can also establish an office here on the Copperbelt. That will greatly help to promote tourism in the province,” he said.
He also expressed happiness with the performance of the hospitality industry in the province, which is growing at a fast rate.
And speaking in Kitwe recently during the official opening of Sherbourne Hotel, Minister of Tourism and Arts Jean Kapata emphasised the need to promote mine, railway and retail tourism on the Copperbelt .
Ms Kapata said Government will be working with local authorities in various districts to package tourist attractions within the vicinity.
She said: “Here on the Copperbelt, we are going to work towards promoting mining tourism. In rural areas, we will be packaging farm and village tourists because tourists are looking for new untried, unique, authentic and exciting experiences.”
Meanwhile, Copperbelt Minister Mwenya Musenge has urged tourists to visit the Copperbelt Province and sample the various tourist attractions that are in the region
And ZTB managing director Felix Chaila has urged the Copperbelt Tourism Committee to be organised and promote mining tourism on the Copperbelt.
“We can only market a product which is packaged. We need to be organised and ensure that our products are well packaged for us to market them,” Mr Chaila said.
Indeed the Copperbelt is slowly but steadily becoming a tourist destination
This article was originally published by Zambia Daily Mail