Tourism industry gets African Development Bank boost
By Wezzie Gausi:
The government said it has secured $800,000 (about K660 million) from the African Development Bank (AfDB) to help propel growth of the tourism sector in the country.
The money would be used for matching grants by small-scale players in the hospitality and tourism industry.
The funds would cushion beneficiaries from possible effects of the Covid pandemic and help them take a step towards recovery.
Making the announcement in Lilongwe on Monday at the commemoration of World Tourism Day, Minister of Tourism and Culture Michael Usi said the grants would benefit 50 micro, small and medium tourism enterprises which are struggling to access finance to enhance their competitiveness.
“Disbursement of the matching grant would commerce in the coming month. We are putting in place policies to ensure that local communities directly participate in the tourism value chain rather than operate on the peripherals of the tourism industry,” Usi said.
The sector is one of the hardest hit where, in 2020 alone, over 300,000 people lost their jobs.
Chingalire Cultural Village proprietor Ben Mankhamba hailed the move, saying it would help propel growth of small-scale tourism entities.
He said small-scale tourism operators, especially those operating in remote areas, play a pivotal role in the sector, hence they need support.
“We want to urge the government to empower local Malawians to fully and effectively participate in tourism business management and entrepreneurial skills,” Mankhamba said.
This year’s World Tourism Day was commemorated under the theme Tourism for Inclusive Growth.
For years, the tourism sector has been seen as the next big thing for Malawi, with officials touting its prospects of becoming the country’s single top foreign exchange earner with potential of contributing heavily towards national economic development.
Most recent figures show that the tourism sector directly supported only 3 percent of employment in the country, creating about 233,000 jobs.
Recently, Malawi introduced the Strategic Tourism Marketing Framework — a five-year strategy for marketing the country to the world to increase tourists’ inflow.
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.