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Zambia looks to attract Chinese tourists

A tourism promotion event is held in Beijing on April 22, 2019 to promote tourism cooperation between Zambia and China. [Photo courtesy of the Embassy of Zambiain China]

Zambia is looking to expand tourism cooperation with China and attract more Chinese tourists through a tourism promotion event in Beijing on Monday.

As a part of the 2019 Zambia-China Culture Year, the promotional event gathered officials from cultural and tourism authorities of both countries, as well as dozens of representatives from Chinese travel agencies.

"Cooperation in tourism is of great significance to developing concrete cooperation between China and Zambia. Boasting different natural sceneries and cultural traditions, the two countries are highly complementary in regard to tourism cooperation," said Xie Jinying, director general of the Bureau of International Exchanges and Cooperation of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of China, at the event.

China is currently the biggest source of outbound tourists in the world. Statistics released by the Chinese Ministry of Culture and Tourism in February shows that a total of 149.72 million outbound trips were made by Chinese tourists in 2018. However, according to Charles Romeo Banda, minister of Tourism and Arts of Zambia, only 18% of them were to Africa, with only 26,562 Chinese tourists traveling to Zambia in 2017.

The low figure may be attributed to the long distance, high costs of travel, lack of direct flights and most notably, insufficient publicity.

Although Zambia was the first country of southern African to establish diplomatic relation with China, it is less known to Chinese tourists than other countries in the region, such as South Africa and Kenya.

Therefore, the Zambia-China Culture Year "provides a good opportunity to grow our economic and cultural relations," said Banda, adding that tourism is an important industry that can be explored for the benefits of both Zambian and Chinese peoples.

China and Zambia have seen increasingly close cooperation in the fields of culture and tourism under the framework of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation and the Belt and Road Initiative. "An ever-growing number of Chinese people are now living in Zambia and integrating into Zambian society, just as more and more Zambians are coming to China for university and college education," Banda said.

This year marks the 55th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and Zambia. Apart from the tourism promotion event and an ongoing Zambian art exhibition in Beijing, China will continue to hold a series of events in Zambia under the framework of the Culture Year, such as a film-TV drama week, cuisine workshop and digital art exhibition, aiming to strengthen understanding and enhance friendship between the Chinese and Zambian peoples.

"Zambians are the most friendly people and Zambia is ready to welcome you," said Felix Chaila, chief executive officer of the Zambia Travel Agency, addressing Chinese people in his briefing on the major tourist attractions in his country.

Besides Victoria Falls, one of the seven Natural Wonders of the World and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, there are many more spots to explore in Zambia, said Chaila, referring to 20 national parks where tourists can see wildlife at close range and to abundant water resources that enable extreme sports fans to pursue thrilling adventures.

In addition to its natural wonders, Zambia's distinctive and diverse cultures will grant exotic experiences to Chinese tourists, owing to its 73 tribes in a population of 17 million people, Chaila said.

"I think Zambia is a tourist destination attractive to Chinese photographic fans or animal lovers, as it has beautiful scenery, pristine wilderness and abundant wildlife," said Ms. Xing with Tianma Holidays Travel Agency. But she voiced a question as to whether it would be a popular destination for tourists who prefer to travel in comfort and leisure.

In response, Chaila argued that Zambia is an ideal destination for both tourist groups and individual tourists, even for families traveling together, as Zambia is the most peaceful and safest tourist destination in Africa, and he assured attendees that modern services and high-end hotels ensure tourists can fully enjoy themselves.

Winnie N. Chibesakunda, ambassador of Zambia to China, promised that the embassy would make efforts to facilitate visa application for Chinese tourists.

Xie pledged that China will continue to hold more tourism promotion events with Zambia and will organize a delegation to the country in July to help Chinese travel agencies design itineraries and enhance cooperation with their Zambian counterparts.  Editor:Lucky

(Source_title:Zambia looks to attract Chinese tourists)