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Minister daring on tourism prospects

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Minister of Tourism Michael Usi has said the tourism sector remains the next big thing for Malawi, touting its prospects of becoming the country’s single top foreign exchange earner with potential of contributing heavily towards national economic development.

Usi was speaking on Friday after an interface with some chiefs from Chikwawa District and wildlife officials over human-and-wildlife conflict around game reserves in the district.

He then asked Chikwawa District Council to chart the way forward by suggesting remedies in consultation with stakeholders in less than four weeks.

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In an interview on the sidelines, Usi said the government was working on ways of revamping the travel and tourism sector and grow its input to gross domestic product.

“It is difficult to be precise [with figures] because we are coming from a shattered tourism industry. We cannot predict from a shattered spectrum. Nevertheless, we are coming back in style and Malawi is going to be one of the most attractive areas to visit in the world,” Usi said.

His sentiments come as, recently, Malawi introduced the Strategic Tourism Marketing Framework—a five-year strategy for marketing the country to the world to increase tourists’ inflow.

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The blueprint redefines Malawi’s tourism product lines in the scope of Experience Lake, Experience Nature, Experience Wildlife, Experience Culture and Experience Mice.

It is earmarked to market Lake Malawi, which is the fifth largest fresh-water lake in the world by volume, the ninth largest lake in the world by area and the third largest and second deepest lake in Africa with high endemic fish bio-diversity.

The nature scope encompasses the country’s diversity of landscape including tea estates, forest reserves, streams, waterfalls, mountains and plateaus.

The strategy also sells Malawi’s cultural practices and cultural village setup to give tourists a feel of typical village life.

Usi then conceded that the tourism was among the hardest-hit sectors by the Covid pandemic, but was quick to say prospects remained good.

“The tourism industry is struggling in Malawi like in many other countries but the good news is we are preparing that, when the world would be opening up, we will hit the ground running,” he said.

He said while the tourism sector has for many years been regarded as a foreign phenomenon, the government was working towards changing the narrative and moving from that paradigm to focus on it as business.

Most recent figures show that the tourism sector directly supported only 3 percent of employment in the country, creating about 233,000 jobs.

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