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Lakeshore meet ban costs firms K2 billion

Colleen Zamba

Accommodation and hospitality outlets operating in lakeshore districts have lost an estimated K2 billion since the government imposed a ban on lakeshore conferences, figures from the Malawi Tourism Council (MTC) show.

Further, the MTC indicates that about 400 jobs are under threat, with some institutions already shedding off employees.

In an interview on Tuesday, MTC Executive Director Innocent Kaliati said there has been a misconception where private agencies have stopped booking for conferences along lakeshore following the same directive.

“What we have seen are job loses which we are yet to quantify and revenue losses of over K2 billion. A lot of government conferences that were already booked have been cancelled and now other agencies such as embassies, regional bodies such as Sadc and Comesa are cancelling their meetings because that directive was not clear.

“Due to lack of clarity, these organisations have taken a route of just cancelling anyway so we are losing business which we should not be losing,” Kaliati said.

He added that the council has since engaged the government to clarify on the matter first and later on discuss removal of the ban altogether.

Principal Secretary in the Minister of Tourism Chancy Simwaka said the industry should reposition itself in line with the directive.

“As a ministry, we are part of the government and I will not be speaking against the directive but the industry should reposition itself.

“The need for clarification will be handled by the SPC but as a ministry, our job is to provide policy guidance to the industry,” Simwaka said.

On June 8 2022 Secretary to President and Cabinet (SPC) Colleen Zamba announced at a meeting with Principal Secretaries from various government ministries and departments that the government has banned lakeshore meetings for all civil servants.

Zamba indicated that all meetings were to be held within duty stations and that board meetings for parastatals must be held in boardrooms.

Her phone could not be reached for a comment on the concerns Tuesday.

But a week ago Zamba said her office continued to receive memos from government ministries, departments and agencies asking for clearance to hold meetings at lake resorts, months after the government imposed a ban on such meetings.

Zamba then said the petitioners are throwing the card that development partners have committed resources to such meetings.

“The current government policy is that of no meetings at the lake and development partners have to align their programmes to that. Don’t come to my office, saying the meeting is fully funded. Let us guide the donors. We are not just looking at the money spent on lake conferences but also the time,” Zamba said.

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