Zambia remains one of Southern Africa's most undersold wildlife destinations.
"It is an undiscovered gem and a good add-on to other wildlife destinations across the region," says Janine Potgieter, Contracting Manager for Regional Destinations at Tourvest Destination Management. "Many lodges in certain areas are closed during the summer months due to the rain as it is impossible to operate - many operators see this as a negative aspect to selling the region, however, it actually adds to the exclusivity of the destination."
Also, says Potgieter, there are lodges that do operate year-round. " Access can be a challenge to plan itineraries when flight access to a specific region is not available daily, however, it should encourage more creative itinerary planning."
According to Suzanne Benadie, Sales Director of Tourvest DMC, tour operators aren't yet confident enough to sell Zambia as a stand-alone destination. This is compounded by the complex charter flight logistics that make getting into certain destinations more expensive. "The general lack of knowledge about the area and the limited accessibility does make it difficult to sell."
But, says Christiane Glanz, Director Key Accounts UK and Switzerland at GoVacation Africa, this should act as encouragement for more tour operators to visit the country and understand the area so that it becomes easier to promote.
Potgieter says lodge operators have been very active with upgrading facilities to meet the expectations of international guests, while readymade packages are increasingly being developed to deliver experiences where international tourists can see as much game as possible.
“It is a fantastic safari destination and, with the active support of the inbound tourism industry, it can only grow,” she says. “Zambia is one of the last true wilderness areas and game-viewing experiences in the different national parks are unlike anywhere else. In addition to the game experiences, it also has some world-class water experiences.”