Zambia woos Indian tourists

Kolkata, Feb 12 (IANS) Boasting of the magnificent Victoria Falls, 20 national parks teeming with wildlife and the host of 20th session of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation General Assembly in August this year, Zambia is positioning itself as the next tourism hotspot in Africa.

"We want Indian travellers to explore Zambia. It is a new place waiting to be explored. We want them to know that besides east Africa and South Africa, Zambia is a new destination," said Bwalya Lyapa Nondo, Acting Deputy High Commissioner of Zambia in India at a media conference organised by the Indian Chamber of Commerce here Tuesday.

With 1.5 million Indians residing in the landlocked southern African nation and with Indians among top ten tourist arrivals in the country, Zambia is marketing itself as a major safari and wildlife, adventure and cultural tourism destination.

"There are two main reasons why Indians should consider us. We are a politically stable nation. There has been no war or political strife. It is safe and secure to travel.

"Besides it has been labelled as the 'fastest growing economy' by The Economist magazine," said Mato Shimabale, Director of Zambia Tourism Board.

According to Shimbale, 25,000 Asian tourists visited Zambia of which Indians comprised an "appreciable" number.

"We got 25,000 visitors from Asia without any marketing itself. This year we expect the number to double since we have started marketing Zambia's tourism potentials," he said.

"We are also promoting our local art and crafts through cultural tourism. Our tribes have a rich culture and we want people to experience that. The locals are friendly.There are many Indian restaurants and many options for high end, middle range and budget travellers," said Shimabale.

Nondo also said that India is being encouraged to open hospitals and healthcare facilities in Zambia.

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