Some stakeholders in the tourism and hospitality industry have called on the government to consider reducing visa fees to help in the recuperation process of the industry from impacts of Covid-19.
They are also calling for easing of Covid-19 restrictions on travellers to allow them visit the country at any time.
The tourism industry is among the worst hit by the pandemic.
A sculptures trader at Livingstonia Beach in Salima, Moses Masese, said they have lost at least 70 percent of business between 2019 and 2020 due to combined effects of Covid-19 and the political impasse which engulfed the country.
“Definitely, this means that our families have suffered because there was no business. The government should at least remove Visa fees and remove the waiting period for Covid-19 tests to get things going,” Masese said.
His sentiments were echoed by industry captains who emphasised that the system had helped other nations in boosting tourism.
Ryalls Hotel Managing Director, David Church, said it would be ideal for Malawi to be almost Visa-free nation to drive the industry.
Sunbird Tourism Limited plc Chief Executive Officer, Yusuf Olela, added that, to boost the industry, there was need to develop tourism products in all destinations to compete regionally.
“The visitors chose whether to come here or go to another country for a similar product unless we have a product that is unique.
“Connectivity and opening of the air space are also important because they come with development of our airport infrastructure. We have no direct flights from the major international source market, it is expensive to connect to Malawi through Kenya, South Africa and Ethiopia,” Olela said.
Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Culture, Michael Usi, said the government had already reduced Visa fees as an initiative to help boost tourism.
Immigration Department spokesperson, Joseph Chauwa, confirmed that in December 2019, the government reduced Visa fees from $75 to $50 dollars.
He further said the government adopted a reciprocity policy in 2016 which holds that citizens from countries that require Malawians to obtain a Visa to enter them will be required to obtain a Visa to enter Malawi.