Minister bemoans tourism, arts industry’s suffering in Parliament

Reviewing five bills


Minister of Tourism, Culture and Wildlife Michael Usi said on Tuesday that Covid has greatly affected the tourism and hospitality sector as well as creative industry.
Usi said this when he was delivering his speech in Parliament in Lilongwe. “The impact of the pandemic on the tourism and hospitality sector as well as arts, heritage and creative industries are far-reaching and so devastating that they are causing significant loss to the country’s economic potential gains from the sector,” he said.
The minister highlighted that global travel restrictions introduced as one of the measures to contain the spread of the pandemic have led to, among others, cancellation of travel plans, hotel stays and event organisations.
“This in turn has led to the loss of income to those who rely on the tourism and hospitality industry and arts for their livelihoods,” he said.
He said the evidence of the impacts of the pandemic in, among others, tourism and hospitality industry were everywhere and visible.
“As of mid-2020, the tourism and hospitality industries had lost over K42 billion in revenue through cancellation of confirmed bookings,” Usi said.
He said that the situation is not good for the industry as jobs are being lost and that there is no business to sustain operations and salaries.
On arts, heritage and creative industries, the minister said the effect of the pandemic has not spared the sector.
“I would like to inform this house that Malawi has currently over 20,000 active artists, artisans and practitioners for the arts, creative industries and cultural heritage. Their works and services make a significant contribution to job creation, tourism and upholding of the virtues of national cultural identity,” he said.
Artists have been on government’s neck for not assisting them with cushion packages during this period, with many struggling in the absence of shows since early last year.
“Most practitioners in the sector are self-employed or depend on short term jobs from fellow practitioners. The control measures to contain the pandemic have therefore affected the sector as all streams for livelihood and presentation of the arts and heritage have been grossly disrupted by the pandemic,” Usi said.
Usi said the ministry has put up some actions to cushion the shocks caused by the pandemic in both tourism and arts sectors.
“From the arts, heritage and creative industries perspective, my ministry intends to build on the institutional reforms for the arts and culture as implemented in 2017 which resulted in the then Department of Culture being split into three separate directorates,” he said.
Usi said the focus is on review of the arts, culture and heritage legislation in order to strengthen the capacity of the sector in the delivery of its services.
“Currently, my ministry is finalising review of the following five bills: The National Arts and Heritage Council Bill, the Museums and Heritage Bill, the National Records, Archives and Printed Publications Bill, The Classification of Films; and the Public Entertainment Bill,” he said.
Usi said he was confident that these sectors, which have shown resilience in the past, would bounce back both locally and globally once measures are lifted.

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