Mambwe, July 24, 2019, ZANIS---Government plans to build a one hundred bed capacity hotel as it upgrades the Mfuwe International Airport in Mambwe district.

Eastern Province Minister Makebi Zulu says the hotel, which is intended to enhance tourist visits to the South Luangwa National Park, is part of the airport expansion programme.

Mr Zulu said Tuesday, when he met United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Secretary General Zurab Pololikashvili, who was accompanied by Minister of Tourism Ronald Chitotela and Zambia’s ambassador to France Christine Kaseba, arrived in Mfuwe, Mambwe where he is scheduled to meet tour operators and visit community projects.

He also announced that plans to reduce the distance covered to access the national park through Petauke have advanced as government has already awarded a contract for lot one of the Petauke/Mambwe road.

“People will no longer have to go round the route of over 530 Kilometer through Chipata as the distance will be reduced by about 120KM. It has been divided into three lots and a contract has already been awarded for lot one, we are yet to award contracts for the other two lots. We also note that tourists would not want to go through the same route so, we want to provide alternative routes in and out of the game park” he said.

He also noted Government is encouraging local tourism to ensure that citizens can also appreciate the national park.

“Though we note the room rates are too high for the locals, we need more investments into affordable accommodation to the locals so that they can also visit the destination,” he said.

Mr Zulu also said that Government plans to introduce packages where tourists who want to visit a specific site can tour other destinations and a reduced price.

“We also realize that what stops tourists are visa processes, we are trying to see how we can ease the systems of immigration to encourage tourists the destination.” He said.

And Mr Chitotela announced that the UNWTO has pledged to train tour operators and upcoming tour operators on their operations to meet international standards.

Mr Chitotela reiterated Government’s commitment to open up the northern circuit by introducing tourism packages that will enable visitors visits several sites with ease.

And Mr Pololikashvili said the South Luangwa National park has massive potential and promised to help market the destination.

“It is a great experience, we need to work together to market the place to encourage tourists to visit the parks,” he said.