The Department of Tourism in the Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife has secured a $10 million grant from the African Development Bank (AfDB) to implement a one and half year capacity building programme for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the sector.
Secretary for Tourism, Isaac Katopola, said this in an interview after opening training for trainers’ session at Nkopola in Mangochi.
He said the programme has been designed to capacitate indigenous SMEs who he said are failing to compete with companies owned by foreigners.
Katopola said the department of tourism noted that most local SMEs in the tourism sector were failing to provide services that can help increase chances of retaining tourists.
“As such, we want to make sure that the SMEs such as the taxi operators, restaurant owners, art galleries, lodge owners, tour operators and other small tourism enterprises are aware that their businesses are not only for profits, but to support the government as well,” he said.
Katopola said currently, about 65 percent of over 1,500 units available in the country do not have the capacity to offer professional services to tourists as compared to some foreign national operating companies in the country.
“This is sad considering that the government has prioritised the tourism sector to help in improving the country’s Gross Domestic Product. It is therefore important that the capacity building exercise be taken seriously to improve the status quo,” he said.
Globally, the tourism sector provides 10 percent of jobs. While in Malawi, the sector comes third on the list of major contributors to the National Gross Domestic Product.
Deputy Team Leader for Centre for Development Management Consulting, Peter Jere, said the training is targeting 500 SMEs across the country.
“The training has been designed to make sure the local SMEs become more competitive and offer services which will attract customers. Tourism is a skills-based sector such that only service providers with up to date skills can compete and help in developing the sector,” he said.