By BUUMBA CHIMBULU
AN electronic platform for licensing and grading of players in the tourism industry has been launched by Government.
The platform is meant to enhance the ease of conducting business in the tourism sector.
Tourism and Arts Minister, Ronald Chitotela, said Zambia needs to continue embracing technological advancements to remain competitive and relevant.
Mr Chitotela stressed yesterday in Lusaka during the launch of the initiative that embracing technology was cardinal as key economic sectors such as tourism recover from the Covid-19 pandemic.
The initiative was launched in conjunction with the Zambia Tourism Agency (ZTA).
He indicated that the rise of various social media platforms and expansion of new technologies had transformed the tourism sector in unprecedented ways.
Mr Chitotela said the e- platform would therefore bring about efficiency in licensing of tourism enterprises and reduce the number of days it took for one to obtain the tourism enterprises licence.
“This will eliminate human error and reduce subjectivity in grading of accommodation establishments. I am informed that the system will also cater for tourism businesses in far-flung area of Zambia to apply for licences online and get their certificates without having to travel to Lusaka,” he said.
He thanked Prospero Zambia for the financial support rendered to ZTA amounting to K1.2 million for the system development and execution of a number of critical programmes including the e- licensing platform.
ZTA chairperson, Tecla Ngwenya, said the development of the initiative was aimed at enhancing the ease of doing business in the tourism sector.
Dr Ngwenya encouraged tourism enterprises to become more innovative and digitally savvy to be able to compete for their fair share of business.
This, she explained, was how Zambia would remain a top of the mind destination for the discerning travellers, local or international.
“The development of quality tourism begins with the development of smart systems as the foundation and backbone of our business.
“I want to encourage management and staff of the ZTA to ensure that the benefits of technological improvements bring about improved compliance levels and service delivery in the country,” Dr Ngwenya said.
She stressed that the tourism sector was contributing about four percent to the national Gross Domestic Product and creating over 300, 000 jobs across the extensive tourism value chain.
And ZTA acting Chief Executive Officer, Doris Kofi, said the initiative would eliminate duplication of licences and grading, among others.
Ms Kofi explained that ZTA had in the past three years been responsible for grading and licening in the tourism sector.
Smart Zambia National Coordinator, Martine Mtonga, said the development of the information system was cardinal in eliminating paper and manual based systems which are not efficient.
“The use of manual based systems are a cost on the Treasury. The system will therefore ease the cost of doing business and stimulate the growth of the tourism industry,” Dr Mtonga said.