The Zambian government has said it is spending US $2.4 million on tourism marketing this year, in a bid to draw more attention from the international market.

Tourism and Arts Permanent Secretary Stephen Mwansa said that “as the government, we are doing a lot” and that the private sector players in the country needed to appreciate the role which the Government was playing in marketing the country’s tourism.

This came in response to Hotel Catering, Tourism and Allied Workers Union of Zambia regional secretary Zephaniah Kaleya’s claims that the Government was not doing enough to market Zambia’s tourism sector on the international market. Mr Kaleya went on to say that areas like Mfuwe which had significant tourism potential were not being given enough publicity, and that Zambia’s tourism marketing was too concentrated on Livingstone.

Mr Kaleya also noted that while Zambia was struggling to record one million tourist arrivals per year, other countries recorded such figures within months.

While Mwansa’s comments were supposed to reinforce previous government assertions that tourism would be at the top of their agenda for 2015, comparison with other regional players suggests that Zambia still has a long way to go. South Africa is spending a whopping US $180 million on tourism marketing, while even troubled neighbour Zimbabwe is spending US $13 million.

So while we should not turn our noses up at the money that the Zambian government is spending on marketing its tourism sector internationally, there is great scope for improvement, and a huge amount of potential that remains largely untapped. Let’s continue to tell the government that its certainly not time to be patting each other on the back just yet. Zambia still deserves better.