By Richard Chirombo:
Arts, which seems to have suffered greatly from perceptions that it is so soft a conceit to be taken seriously, finally has its time in-the-sun of Takulandirani Malawi International Tourism Expo, one of the serious events in the country.
This is according to information posted on Malawi Tourism website, which indicates that the event— a constellation of players in the tourism industry— will serve as a platform at which the arts industry may showcase its potential and proffer its products.
This is unlike in the past, when players in the industry were losing out on the opportunity to showcase their commitment towards preserving, interpreting and transmitting cultural artifacts such as poems, paintings, musical instruments and works, among others.
Malawi Tourism will hold the third edition of Takulandirani Malawi International Tourism Expo from April 25 to 27 at the Bingu International Convention Centre in Lilongwe.
According to organisers, several players in the arts industry are raring to participate in the event, among them Sungani Zakwathu Cultural Heritage Association.
“We are a cultural non-governmental organisation which worked with your office last year to showcase some cultural performances at the Malawi Square and we wish to take part again this year but in a more colourful way,” the organisation is quoted as expressing interest in the event.
Another one is Zathu Arts and Crafts, small and medium enterprise in the Malawian art business.
“A hub of Malawian brands, souvenirs, curios, crafts, art and other artwork made by hand by local artisans, we would love to showcase our treasures to the world and meet like-minded clients,” it says.
Others are usual suspects such as the government’s Department of Arts, which is made up of the Division of Arts and Crafts and the Censorship Board.
It was formed in 2014 following the functional review of the Department of Culture and its mandate is to coordinate, develop, promote, preserve and regulate Malawi’s creative industry.
“The Department of Arts will bring on board artists who will perform traditional dances, as well as play one of the indigenous instruments called ‘kaligo’.
“In addition, the department will bring visual artists who will display various types of art works,” it is quoted as saying.
Recently, Director of Tourism, Isaac Katopola, told The Daily Times that the Malawi tourism sector continued to grow, citing the holding of the second Takulandilani Malawi International Tourism Expo last year.
The event hosted over 58 international buyers from 24 countries, 10 international media companies, over 10 regional exhibitors from Zambia and Zimbabwe and over 120 local exhibitors.
“The sector also finalised the draft National Tourism Policy, Tourism Marketing Strategy Framework and Domestic Tourism Marketing Strategy.
“It also launched the largest development partner intervention in the country’s history under the Africa Development Bank-funded Promoting Investment and Competitiveness in the Tourism Sector $10 million project which seeks to build and strengthen the capacity of the sector. The ministry has constructed and upgraded a total of 4.8 kilometres of access roads at Senga Bay in Salima District,” he is quoted as saying.
According to 2017 official tourism statistics, 835,000 international tourists visited Malawi. Twenty-two percent of these tourists visited Malawi for purposes of leisure, 68 percent for business, conferences and meetings, with the rest visiting friends and relatives, among other reasons.
Katopola said, in terms of leisure, Malawi offers four key product lines, namely; experience water, experience nature, experience wildlife and experience culture and people.