By Emmanuel Simpokolwe
At least 496 tourism enterprises in the country are at risk of being closed down for operating without valid Tourism and Hotels Board licences.
Minister of Tourism Michael Usi disclosed this on Thursday when he led ministry officials in Lilongwe in closing down tourism enterprises that are failing to comply with provisions of the Tourism and Hotels Act.
He said a total of 1,123 were recommended for a 2022 Tourism and Hotels Board Licence but only 627 have paid for their licences.
The minister has since, closed Korean Garden Lodge, Crown Hotel, Lalala’s Eating Place at City Mall, Our Place Guesthouse in Area 15 and a restaurant at Lilongwe Sanctuary for failing to pay licencing fee.
According to Usi they are enforcing the law because the owners have not voluntarily paid their fees and that the premises will remain closed until they rectify their problems.
“This is just a start to bring sanity in the industry. We are going to close down all enterprises that are operating without a valid Tourism and Hotels Board Licence,” Usi said.
The minister has also warned cottage owners who lie to government that their premises are private homes and, yet, they are accommodating tourists, saying this type of behaviour is what is killing Malawi and government will be hard on them.
“Any behaviour that is associated with impunity must be given this kind of treatment,” Usi said.
According Usi, for Malawi to develop, there is a need to adhere to certain discipline as the government needs the money for development.
The tourism industry is still recovering from the Covid pandemic. The Tourism and Hotels Board allowed the operators to pay in installments.