Although at national level, 64.1 percent of households expressed willingness to spend on tourism activities, only 12.5 percent of Malawians would be able to afford domestic tourism, a new National Statistical Office (NSO) study has shown.
In September every year, Malawi commemorates the tourism month, which runs through the World Tourism Day on September 27.
The July 2021 Malawi Domestic and Outbound Tourism Survey Report (2019) survey shows that
financial constraints was the major reason for not taking tourism trips as reported by 87.5 percent of the respondents, followed by lack of interest at 5.8 percent.
The least popular reason for not taking touristic trips was old age (0.8 percent).
Reads the report in part: “Analysis by place of residence shows that both rural and urban areas had financial constraints as the major reason for not taking tourist trips. Urban households reported 87.8 percent while rural households reported 85.4 percent.
“Analysis by place of residence shows that households from rural areas wished to visit water bodies [66.0 percent] followed by meetings, incentives, conferencing and exhibitions [20.7 percent] and wilderness [7.7 percent]. In urban areas, 63.2 percent of households wished to visit water bodies followed meetings, incentives, conferencing and exhibitions [20.3 percent] and wilderness at 9.9 percent.”
According to the NSO figures, nationally, 30.3 percent of the households made same day trips in 2019, with 29.8 percent of the people visiting friends and relatives, 14.3 percent travelled for trading and 10.9 percent to attend funerals.
About three percent of the people who undertook same day trips within Malawi travelled for holidays, leisure and recreation.
The survey also found that total expenditure on tourism for the same day trip in Malawi in 2019 was K92.9 billion with the highest expenditure (K33.8 billion) was on shopping with an average of K24 249 per trip followed by transport at K31.4 billion with an average expenditure per trip of K8 671.
The least expenditure was on game reserves/national park fees at MK71.5 million with an average expenditure of MK6 788 per trip
Analysis by purpose shows that highest expenditure (MK 23.1 billion) on same day trips in Malawi was on shopping followed by trading at MK19.5 billion and third was visiting friends and relatives at MK14.7 billion.
Of the 37 percent of households who took domestic overnight trips in 2019, 79.2 percent took seven or less days away from their usual environment or home with 9.5 percent of the trips lasting 15 to 30 days, 5.6 percent of the trips lasting eight to 14 days and 0.7 percent lasting more than 180 days.
Out of this, K111.4 billion was spent on tourism and the average expenditure was K30 479.
Expenditure on transport was the highest at K51.8 billion with an average of K15 783 per trip, followed by accommodation at K14.8 billion with an average of K23 375.
The least expenditure was made on wildlife reserves entry fee at K241.6 million.
In a statement accompanying the report, former director of tourism Alice Magombo observed that domestic tourism is a key driver of the tourism sector and also cushions local tourism when international tourism suffers external shocks.
She said: “In times of crisis such as the Covid-19 pandemic, domestic tourism will be the first to recover before foreign tourism.
“Currently the country is developing its Domestic Tourism Marketing Strategy and the Domestic and Outbound Tourism survey comes at an opportune time when the key findings of the survey will be used to finalise the strategy.”
Commissioner of Statistics Mercy Kanyuka said the data will help the Malawi government to formulate and implement policies that will help to develop and promote tourism sector.