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Tourism operators decry Malawi’s visa processes

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Some local tourism players have said the difficulties in accessing Malawi’s visa remain one of the main challenges leading to less number of tourists willing to come into the country.

Managing Director for Bon Voyage Tourist Travel and a member of Malawi Tourism Council, Ken Banda, said the visa processes in the country are a burden to the tourism sector.

“Our clients from abroad need to have access to online visa application and be able to come here and pay for the visas upon arrival. We can do a lot of marketing out there but if people cannot come because Malawi is an expensive destination and because they have problems in accessing visas then we are just wasting our time,” Banda said.

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The call comes at a time government is consulting different stakeholders on the proposed National Tourism Policy, which aims at addressing several challenges rocking the sector.

Banda said in the proposed policy, the government should strive to provide a conducive airline operating environment which will see more airlines operating in the country to ensure that tourists do not pay more for transportation to Malawi if compared with the neighbouring countries.

He also said there is need for the country to improve road networks to tourist destinations.

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Director for Tourism, Elsie Tembo, said the proposed policy, which is awaiting cabinet approval before implementation, will create an enabling environment for the development, regulation and promotion of a sustainable, competitive and inclusive tourism sector.

“A lot is being negatively affected as we operate without a formal policy in the tourism sector. That is why this gathering is very important so that we have input from different stakeholders. This policy is going to provide relevant platform where all players are going to have one strategic direction in which they should pull their efforts towards improving Malawi as tourist destination,” Tembo said.

The tourism sector has been operating using a draft policy developed in 2004 with support from other strategic documents such as the 2001- 2008 Strategic Tourism plan, the 2009-2014 Malawi Tourism Strategic plan as well as the recently developed Malawi 2020 Tour ism Development Strategy.

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