Alessandro Mariani, Ambassador of the European Union
Meeting on Investment Opportunities in the Zambian Tourism Sector
5 February 2016
Senior Officials of the Government of Zambia
Colleagues, Ambassadors of European Union Member States in Zambia
I would like to thank the Honourable Minister for Tourism, Arts and Culture and her team, as well as their Excellencies, the Ambassadors of the EU Member States, for participating in this meeting which is clearly in the mutual interest for future relations between Zambia and the European Union.
I will try to be short so that we have time to hear substantive presentations from our distinguished guests and for debate amongst all of us.
Objective of the meeting:
The objective of our meeting today is to learn about:
the investment opportunities in the Zambian tourism sector,
the enabling environment and incentives the Government is putting in place to attract such investment from the best source (i.e.: the Minister and her team).
We will then have an exchange of ideas to be further explored and jointly followed-up upon in the near future.
FDI as a driver for development:
It is almost a cliché to say that foreign direct investment is essential for the economic development (of each and every country).
Nonetheless, I would like to reiterate a few of its advantageous effects. From an investor's point of view, it can provide new markets and marketing channels. For a host country, it can provide a source of new technologies, capital, processes, products, organizational technologies and management skills, overall, a strong drive for economic development.
This makes FDI a unique tool for development, different from all others, because it creates a win-win situation; it is in the mutual interest of both parties.
Of course, foreign investment has to framed and regulated so that it delivers development. In this respect, it is noteworthy that recent statistics show that FDI has overtaken ODA in Africa.
So, what are the investors' pre-requisites, in general terms?
First of all, a safe and stable political environment.
Secondly, an open market economy.
Thirdly, and probably one of the most important factors, is a predictable and stable regulatory environment where businesses can develop and grow based on long term planning without surprises, as businesses usually hate uncertainties.
For tourism to thrive, an environment that is conducive to business development is required. This means:
incentives for private sector investment,
easy access – including good transport connectivity and visa facilitation,
as well as the appropriate policies to encourage growth in demand.
As we are all resident here in Zambia we know that Zambia is a very beautiful country and we experience every day the warm hospitality of the Zambian people. Exploring its incredible national parks and wildlife, the Victoria Falls - a natural wonder of the world - and other impressive falls and lakes, the Zambezi River are truly unique experiences. Allow me to stress, Honourable Minister, the paramount importance of wildlife and wildlife conservation for the development of wildlife related tourism. This is an unparalleled wealth which deserves the full attention of the Government and the people of Zambia. Moreover, Zambia has a tropical climate, a passport to sunshine almost throughout the year! All in all, Zambia benefits from tremendous natural advantages all across its territory and the untapped potential in the tourism sector is huge.
Tourism has the potential to contribute towards employment and economic growth, as well as to development in rural, peripheral or less-developed areas.
Sustainable tourism offers opportunities for revenue generation in both the private and public sectors. At the same time, it stimulates economic activities that deliver conservation, social and financial benefits to the local communities. The involvement of local communities in the development and management of National Parks and Natural Reserve Areas is in this respect essential contributing also to job creation.
The numbers of the sector in terms of contribution to GDP and job creation show there is room for further improvement as tourism has been chosen as one of the main areas of economic growth and diversification for the country. It has been given the status of non-traditional export and is receiving a lot of support from the Government by way of infrastructure development, promotion of increased private sector participation, as well as attractive tax incentives for all investments in the sector; items that I understand the Honourable Minister and the Permanent Secretary will describe in detail when presenting the investment opportunities in the Zambian tourism sector.
How the European Union supported the sector until now?
Data show that the European Union countries are privileged partners for the further development of tourism in Zambia. For example if we look at arrivals in 2014, after visitors from the Continent, the European visitors accounted for almost 80,000 people. This shows that the European tourists constitute a good market for Zambia and further justifies our meeting today.
So far, the European Union and its member states contributed extensively to the development of a conducive environment for tourism to grow, by supporting:
the infrastructure and energy sectors,
private sector development, and
the development of sustainable wildlife management,
to name just a few areas.
And we now would like to explore with you the support in terms of possible FDI from European private companies and investors to complement what has been already done.
Existing know-how in the EU
The European Member States and the European Union have extensive expertise and know-how in tourism and related industries as the European Union itself is a major tourist destination, with five of its Member States among the world’s top 10 destinations in 2014.
We believe that European private companies and investors might therefore contribute with their excellent know-how also to spur growth in the tourism sector, here in Zambia.
We now look forward to hearing from the Minister and the Permanent Secretary on the initiatives the government is undertaking to attract investors and what concrete projects are on the table right now and to a fruitful debate afterwards with the Ambassadors of the EU Member States.