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Yellow Fever Relaxation by South Africa to Boost Zambian Tourism

Thursday, 05 Feb 2015 06:47 AM

(Bloomberg) -- South Africa’s decision to end Yellow fever vaccination requirements for travelers to Zambia is expected to prove a shot in the arm for the tourism business in a country that’s home to the world’s largest curtain of falling water.

International arrivals may rise by more than 20 percent from last year’s estimated one million as a result of the South African decision, Felix Chaila, managing director at the Zambia Tourism Board, said Wednesday.

“The Yellow fever certificate demanded by South Africa was the most significant single factor negatively affecting the arrival of international tourists to Zambia,” Chaila said in an e-mailed response to questions. There are no direct flights between Zambia and Europe.

The South African move, effective Jan. 31, makes it easier for tourists to visit attractions ranging from the Victoria Falls to game parks home to rhinos, elephants, lions and the annual migration of about 10 million fruit bats to the Kasanka National Park. Luring more tourists is one way Zambia, Africa’s second-biggest copper producer, is trying to diversify away from mining as prices for the metal languish near 5 1/2-year lows and production declines.

“For overseas tourists in countries where Yellow fever is generally nonexistent, the Yellow fever vaccine is both difficult to obtain and very expensive when found,” said Chaila.

British Airways

Yellow fever is carried by mosquitoes. There are an estimated 200,000 cases worldwide each year, with 90 percent of the 30,000 deaths caused by the illness occurring in Africa, according to the World Health Organization.

Since Royal Dutch Airlines ended flights in October last year, there are no longer any direct connections between Zambia and Europe for the first time since the country won independence from Britain 50 years ago. British Airways ended flights to Lusaka, the capital, a year earlier. As a result, travelers have to fly via places including South Africa and Dubai.

Zambia removed a 5 percent import duty on aircraft fuel from Jan. 1 as part of an effort to attract more airlines.

About 80 percent of the land-locked nation’s 914,576 tourist arrivals in 2013 were from other African countries and 12 percent from Europe, the Finance Ministry said in a report last year.

Zambia is a low-risk country for Yellow fever, Health Minister Joseph Kasonde said in December, citing research by the WHO.

To contact the reporter on this story: Matthew Hill in Lusaka at mhill58@bloomberg.net To contact the editors responsible for this story: Antony Sguazzin at asguazzin@bloomberg.net John Viljoen, Michael Gunn

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Thursday, 05 Feb 2015 06:47 AM
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