Amid rising concerns about the deadly Ebola virus in Africa, Zambia’s tourism authorites remain optimistic that the country will reach its projected target of 1.2 million international tourist arrivals for 2014.

Felix Mulenga, chairperson of the Tourism Council of Zambia, said the Ebola outbreak would have minimal impact on the Zambian tourism sector, while the country’s permanant Secretary of Tourism and Arts, Stephen Mwansa, said that despite the Ebola outbreak in certain parts of West Africa, Zambia is on course to attaining its projection for the year. Mwansa reiterated that although the outbreak is a public health emergency of international concern, Zambia was not on the ladder of the affected countries; nor are any of those countries with which it shares borders.

Mwansa also noted that new marketing strategies have helped to boost international tourism to Zambia this year.

Elaborating on the current situation, Mulenga insisted  that although the Ebola outbreak will inevitably impact on the numbers of international arrivals for Africa as well as Zambia, the country’s projection would be met, whilst adding that there was still a need to increase the level of awareness about Zambia as a tourist destination in the key markets.

The projected 1.2 million international arrivals this year would mean a staggering 31% increase from 2013 (912,576 international arrivals), compared to a 6.7% increase between 2012 (859,088) and 2013.

Zambia’s key international markets are South Africa, China, United Kingdom, Zimbabwe, India, Tanzania, United States of America, Kenya and Germany.