The province has continued to absorb rapid construction of lodges and guest houses especially in towns such as Kasama for example and soon, an investor will go there to set up a Five-Star Hotel.
Endowed with various natural tourist attractions like the Chishimba Falls in Kasama and Mwela rock paintings in Kasama, Kalambo Falls in Mbala, Ntumba Chushi in Kawambwa including historical museums, the province is set for a large share of tourist arrivals.
Other sites of particular interest in the province include Mumbuluma, Chipoma and Chilambwe falls, spiced with traditional ceremonies like Ukusefya Pa Ng’wena and Umutomolo among them.
With plans by Government to upgrade airports in the province including that at Kasaba Bay, the northern circuit will have made inroads in enhancing its contribution to Gross Domesic Product(GDP)
According to Chishimba Falls National Heritage Site(NHS) manager Joseph Museba, the province had by September this year, attracted 12,542 local and foreign tourists.
This is a remarkable improvement from the 10,532 tourist arrivals recorded during the same period in 2012.
For example, Chishimba Falls Heritage Site which is the leading attraction in the region, recorded monthly arrivals of not less than 2,000 tourists compared to 1,000 last year.
Mr Museba attributes this achievement to an aggressive marketing strategy for the site by the Zanmbia Tourist Board (ZTB) and NHS.
“These sites have continued to attract lots of tourists in the past months, I think people have now come to know about the beauty of a natural wonder like Chishimba Falls,” Mr Museba said.
Chishimba Falls Heritage Site is located 35 Kilometres West of Kasama, off Mporokoso Road.
The falls is documented as second only to the Victoria Falls in Livingstone in terms of tourist arrivals and revenue collection.
Although most tourist sites in the province are able to attract such a high number of tourists, there is still need to construct lodging and camping facilities in the vicinity of tourist sites in the province.
Mr Museba, however, disclosed that Government was in the process of leasing out part of the land at Chishimba and Mwela Rocks for the construction of lodges and camping site under the Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement
Northern Province Permanent Secretary Hlobotha Nkunika said tourist sites in the province would be easily accessible once all the upgrading and construction of road networks were completed in the province.
The Government had released K5.2 million for the purchase of equipment to make feeder roads which would link the areas endowed with natural wonders.
He cited various power grid extensions under the national and rural electrification programme, as some of the factors that would have a significant impact on tourism once completed.
Mr Nkunika said once Kasaba Bay was reconstructed, it would beef up tourist arrivals in the region.
Tenders for the reconstruction of Kasaba Bay have been floated and the Government is yet to select the preferred bidder to partner with it to develop the area.
Tour operators have said the upgrading and construction of road networks is helping tourist arrivals than ever before though they still think more should be done, especially to expand the Kasama Airport and marketing of tourism sites by the tourism body.
Million Guest House general manager Stanley Hambulo was of the view that Government through the National Airports Corporation (NAC), quickly expands infrastructure at the Kasama Airport if the region was to attract more tourists in the northern tourism circuit.
On the marketing of tourism in the province, Mr Hambulo thinks ZTB needs to market Zambia’s tourism beyond the Victoria Falls for the country to derive economic benefits from the sector.
“ZTB should market Zambia beyond the Victoria Falls, there is a lot of emphasis on the Victoria Falls and yet we have equally mesmerizing natural wonders elsewhere which if well marketed can contribute significantly to the economy of the country,” Mr Hambulo said.
But Mwela Rocks site assistant Nathan Kanyantila stated that management had intensified marketing of the site which he noted had started yielding results.
“It is amazing to note that all these years people did not appreciate local natural wonders, but because of the campaigns we have been carrying out, locals have started coming to the site,” he said.
Doreen Kanyanga a local tourist from Lusaka, who visited the site in Kasama recently, did not know that the province was endowed with such tourism sites.
Ms Kanyanga urged Zambians to promote local tourism by visiting sites instead of depending on foreign tourists.
“I am amazed that this province has such tourism endowment, if one takes a look at Chishimba, Mwela rocks and others, with proper infrastructure and marketing, the province is capable of competing favourably with Livingstone,” she said.
Times of Zambia