This is a blog about me and the things that make me laugh, smile, hurt or cry!

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Hospitality Industry In Zambia -- A Home Away From Home?

Over the last few years, the Zambian government has been making a lot of noise about the 'Visit Zambia' campaign. We are told that tourism is the answer to our national economy's dependence on the mining industry.

Recent economic growth resulting in increased disposable income has seen the appearance of a guest house on every other street corner. Curiously, 90 per cent of these boasts the slogan, 'A Home Away From Home'.

Wonderful news, you might say. Not in my experience.

During my working life, I have stayed in various hotels, guest houses and lodges in Zambia, Africa, Europe and North America. Recently, I traveled to South Luangwa and Kafue National Parks respectively. En route, we spent one night in Chipata and two nights in Mumbwa.

In Chipata, we spent the night at the relatively new Crossroads Lodge. Of the four that currently exist (in Mongu, Livingstone, Chipata and Lusaka), the Chipata branch is considered the nicest. Immediately I entered my room, I knew that the same logic behind the design of the room (lodge as a whole), was the reason for the kind of services I could expect from this establishment.

Open the door to the bathroom and the door will not open all the way. Why? because it is obstructed by the toilet. What follows next, is a manoeuvre familiar to any traveler in Zambia. You must squeeze your body around the door and stand almost inside the shower or bathtub. Close the bathroom door behind you and shuffle over to the toilet. If you forgot your toothpaste or toothbrush before embarking on this bathroom journey, you must go through the same experience all over again.

Many guest houses and lodges actually use narrower doors for the bathrooms in their establishments. Or else they go to the other extreme where everything is so spaced out, you must take several steps onto the cold floor coming out of the bathtub or shower in order to reach your towel or toiletries.

I could write so much more, but maybe let me end with my experience in Mumbwa where a colleague checked into his self-contained executive chalet in hopes of relaxing while watching some TV. He switches on the wall-mounted flat screen TV, only to find it was not plugged in and the cable did not appear to match the socket. He goes to reception to complain and is told "there is no adapter Sir; if you want to watch TV, you will need an adapter."


  1. Very interesting read!

    Its the kind of thing Prof Ali A Mazrui called "civilisation without real modernisation" when he was talking about hotels in East Africa.

    The hotel room is fitted with all the artifacts fittings and fixtures of a modern room but without the technology to make them work!!!! so you have a telephone extention line that does not call, a hot water tap that is not connected, and a pay TV that is controlled by the barman downstairs. If the barman decides to tune to an R18 movie, unfortunately you have to learn to live with it.


  2. These sort of experiences almost make you hesitant to travel away from home for leisure ...

    Do we have an authority responsible for tourism grading in Zambia? If we do, I think information on graded facilities should be made public so that people have an idea of the level of service they can expect.