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New marketing strategy to promote local tourism

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By Macdonald Ziba:

KATOPOLA— This affects budgeting

The Department of Tourism in the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism has said it is finalising a draft Domestic Tourism Marketing Strategy (DTMS) aimed at putting in place mechanisms to grow the number of Malawians that visit tourism facilities in the country.

Director of Tourism, Isaac Katopola, said once finalised, the strategy would also promote collaboration among various players in the industry.

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Katopola said the strategy intends to sustain local tourism.

“The strategy will not only increase the number of local tourists, but also enhance collaboration among various players in the industry in the promotion of domestic tourism,” he said.

According to Katopola, the activities it is carrying out include undertaking promotional campaigns on the benefits of travel to current and potential tourist sites, conducting training for tourism product owners and lobbying for the formation and capacitating of tourism promotion units in local councils.

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“We are also strengthening and improving innovation in offering authentic and affordable experiences and packages for locals and lobbying for introduction of tourism in curricula at primary and tertiary levels,” he added.

Katopola further said, in the 2018/2019 tourism budget, the department planned to conduct training workshops for small and medium enterprises on how to use social media to promote their facilities.

The department also plans to conduct awareness workshops for tourism enterprises.

He added that the private sector supports programmes the department undertakes to promote domestic tourism.

“The hospitality sector offers loyalty incentive schemes and special rates during the off-peak season.

“The private sector also offers special packages during festive seasons and during hosting of major arts and cultural events through inclusion of local cuisine on their menus and usage of local materials in the branding of tourism facilities,” he said.

A Lilongwe-based domestic tourist, Leonard Phiri, said Malawi is not doing well in promoting domestic tourism.

“The charges in most tourism facilities are prohibitive and conditions of roads are bad, hence favouring rich international tourists,” he said.

“The reality is that tourism services and products are very expensive for average Malawians who would wish to be part of promoting domestic tourism. For instance, you find a room at K80, 000 per night in most lodges in Salima District.

“The government should also make sure it allocates a reasonable amount of money for domestic tourism management,” he added.

Statistics indicate that in 2016, domestic tourism accounted for over 70 percent of all tourism activities in the country and over 75 percent of room occupancy in all tourist accommodation units and visits to the country’s national parks and wildlife reserves were by local residents. —Mana

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