Players in tourism industry have said that corruption in the country’s borders is affecting the number of tourists willing to come into the country.
This is coming at a time the industry is facing a number of challenges that are hindering the industry’s capacity to contribute to national development.
Speaking during a constitution review meeting in Mzuzu over the weekend, one official from Chitimba Adventures, Kizito Kambalame, said corruption is rampant at the country’s borders.
“Most tourists are complaining about the harassment they get at borders. The guys [Immigration Department officers] at borders demand a lot of money [from tourists], they are trying to make more money from them,” Kambalame said.
Kambalame said tourists from yellow fever-infected countries are asked to corruptly procure yellow fever cards even before being tested; a thing that he said poses a health risk to Malawians.
He said this is a double burden on the tourists who are expected to dig deep in their pockets for a visa which is one of the most expensive visas in the region.
According to Kambalame, the number of tourists that used to visit his place has gown down by almost 50 percent.
Executive Director for Malawi Tourism Council, Elsie Tembo, kept mum on the corruption allegations but said the council will engage the government to consider revising the visa price as one way of resuscitating the dying industry.
“We have put ourselves as a destination in a corner; we have disadvantaged ourselves, when tourists want to come to Africa, they do not just want to visit one country, hence the need for the country to revisit our policies” Tembo said, adding that a Malawian visa carters for the country alone while other visas are valid in more than one country.
She added that the council intends to engage government to discuss how they can develop the tourism industry.
By the end of this year, the tourism sector is expected to contribute 13 percent towards the realisation of the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy II. The Ministry of Tourism projects over one million tourists per year by 2020.
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