The Zambia Tourism Board (ZTB) is saddened by and strongly condemns the shooting by gunmen in Livingstone on Tuesday, April 17, 2012, which resulted in the killing of Mr. Jacob Chirwa, a security officer with Zig Zag restaurant; Mr. Sergio Vaale, a pilot with Batoka Skies; and Ms. Marie-Noell, a tour operator who was shot in the arm and has since been discharged from the hospital.
This despicable incident has put a blemish to the start of the 2012 tourism season, following the end of rains. The ZTB and cooperating partners, like the Zambia police among others, have before and since the unfortunate incident about two weeks ago been on the ground to prevent any such incidents of criminality or even harassment of tourists and is resolved to solve any such incidents should they ever inadvertently happen.
Therefore, as a Board responsible for marketing Zambia’s tourism locally and globally, we are concerned that such isolated incidences have the potential to affect both local and international tourism, thereby directly negatively impacting on the economic fortunes of the country. The country has made great strides in attracting both tourists and investors, and has been recognized as one of the best emerging economies in the world. An investor-friendly environment, favorable international copper prices, stable political environment, and availability of highly-qualified human resource all contribute to this stupendous achievement, and it is a responsibility of all Zambians to safeguard what we have all tirelessly worked hard to build over time.
Livingstone, as a tourist capital of Zambia, has a lot of development agenda for the country. Later this year, the city is scheduled to host a variety of international events. These include, among others, the Royal Agricultural Show Society of the Commonwealth Conference in September, and the signing of the Tripartite Agreement between Zambia, Zimbabwe, and the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) towards the end of this month. This Tripartite Agreement will unveil the road map for the joint hosting of the upcoming UNWTO General Assembly with Zimbabwe in August 2013.
We are also privileged to have the Zambian Chapter of Rotary International, who will be hosting The Rotary Institute 2012 in July of this year. The Ladies Circle Zambian Chapter will also host the Ladies Circle International Conference from August 22-25, 2013 in Livingstone, with over 600 international delegates expected to come to Zambia. In addition, the Dr. David Livingstone Bi-centenary Celebrations will take place in Livingstone from March to November of next year. These international events will showcase our beautiful country to the world and bring national benefits that all of us must be proud of as long as our shared national development agenda remains to fight poverty and improve the standards of living of the majority of our citizens.
Being chosen to host these events is an endorsement of our country being a peace haven. This is further endorsed by the recent tourism poll commissioned by the World Economic Forum – The Competitive Report 2011, in which Zambia was voted second in Africa after Mauritius, and number twelve in the world, as the most hospitable country. As a nation, we must jealously guard this rare and landmark status.
In that vein, ZTB expresses gratitude to the Zambia police and the government through the Ministry of Home of Affairs and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Tourism for the cooperation, speed, and attention to this matter. Their response through reinforcement of police officers and the priority investigation at senior level has led to arrests and added security in Livingstone. ZTB endorses the Zambia police actions and interim updates on this matter, and is confident that our legal due process will prevail in ensuring that justice is meted out to those responsible. The Board will continue to monitor the situation and give updates to the tourism industry. The ZTB applauds the collective efforts of all concerned and sends our deepest condolences to the bereaved families. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of Messrs Jacob Chirwa and Sergio Vaale who passed away in this tragic episode. We further wish Ms. Marie-Noell a full and speedy recovery.
Zambia and Livingstone in particular have been known throughout the world as a country and city of great hospitality, peace, security, and truly warm friendly smiles. Therefore, ZTB wishes to take the opportunity to acknowledge and thank the large majority of the people of Livingstone and Zambia in general for the hospitality and warmth they provide to domestic and international tourists.
The ZTB wishes to encourage Zambians to continue to take up their role as tourists and indeed as warm and friendly hosts of tourists, both domestic and international. This hallmark is the bedrock for Zambia’s increasing milestones both in the tourism and of attracting investment in all sectors of our economy. The Zambian people have shown throughout history to be a people that love peace and security. It is, therefore, highly unfortunate to see the name of Zambia being tarnished by the actions of a few criminal individuals. However, while this recent sad event may cast a blemish on Zambia, it cannot subtract from all the milestones the country has achieved since independence. Neither should it be allowed to detract from the joyful and peaceful welcome that tourists have always, and will continue, to enjoy in our beautiful homeland.
Zambia has always been associated with peace and tranquillity. It is, therefore, our wish that our partners, customers, and stakeholders in the development of this great nation will appreciate the tireless and stringent efforts the country is putting in to ensure that such incidences are nipped in the bud. As we continue to reflect on this, we would like to assure our partners in the tourism sector, that we remain committed and absolutely resolved to ensure that Zambia remains and continues to be one of the most peaceful and safe tourism destinations in the world. This is our national brand identity, and we cannot afford to throw it away.
We remain encouraged that these shootings will by far remain isolated events that should not deter us from looking at the brighter and bigger winning picture of tourism in Zambia. Despite this incident, safety and security will continue to remain the cornerstone of Zambia’s competitive advantage in the sub-Saharan Africa in the tourism sector.
We would like to assure all stakeholders, travelers, and most importantly tourists throughout Zambia that their safety is the nation’s number one priority in this sector. In conclusion, and as we kick the 2012 tourism season into high gear, we implore you to continue coming to enjoy Zambia’s pristine splendor as you explore our magnificent natural endowments, our people, and culture. We would like to encourage our fellow Zambians to also tour, explore, and enjoy their country as they host and embrace international tourists in the spirit of humanity.