The Development of Tourism in Livingstone District 1945-1991

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Moonga, Kalonga
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For many years, scholars on Zambian history have concentrated on two themes:mining and agriculture. The two subjects have dominated, perhaps, because of the central position they hold in the country's economy. Little attention has been given to tourism, which is equally a vital industry with significant potential to the national economy. In recent years, tourism has been identified as the fastest growing industry in the world and a great foreign exchange (forex) earner, second only to oil. It is for these reasons that this study attempts to investigate some of the major factors vital to the development of tourism in Livingstone in particular and Zambia in general. Cognisance of the potential of tourism to the economic development of the country and the desire to diversify the economy, the Zambian government regards the tourism industry as the third most important sector of the economy after mining and agriculture. Although successive Zambian governments have shown goodwill towards the development of the tourism industry in Zambia, particularly in the Victoria Falls area, its development has lagged behind that of Zimbabwe. The Victoria Falls Town alone in Zimbabwe received not less than half a million tourists every year in the early 1990s, while Livingstone attracted a mere trickle. This study attempts to investigate some of the major forces, which shaped the development of tourism in Livingstone between 1945 and 1991. It further examines how these factors retarded or stimulated the development of tourism in different historical epochs. This is study is located in the political economy of Zambia, before and after independence. Despite its significance to the national economy, tourism has attracted little attention. The study argues that from the early colonial period to 1945, successive colonial governments neglected the tourism industry in Livingstone. The British South Africa Company (BSACo.) which ruled Zambia between 1890 and 1923 was more interested in tapping the territory's labour than developing its industries, including tourism.The Crown government which took over from the BSACo. in 1924 recognised the importance of tourism in the country's economic development. However, its efforts to develop the industry were restricted merely to the building of the museum and an airport in Livingstone. The paucity of white population and a small economic base could neither influence nor permit respectively the Crown Government's policies to invest adequately in tourism. The Federal period (1953 to 1963) witnessed an expansion of the tourism industry. This was a period of economic boom which resulted into increased investment in the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. In spite of such improvement, Livingstone in particular and Zambia in general still lagged behind in terms of tourism development compared to Zimbabwe. This imbalance can be attributed to the federal arrangement which favoured Zimbabwe as opposed to Zambia and Malawi. The Federal Government with its parliament in Zimbabwe enacted pieces of legislation, which attracted more investment in tourism at the expense of other federal states.In the post-colonial period (1964 up to 1991), the government, like its predecessor recognised the importance of tourism but inherited a shaky foundation on which to develop the tourism industry. This was compounded by both economic and political constraints notably, the fall in prices of copper on which the government depended. The rise in oil prices in the 1970's and also the liberation wars in the Central-Southern Africa.
Tourism Trade--Zambia