A local tourism expert has urged tourism authorities to revise standards for annual inspection as one way of boosting the local tourism enterprises to international standards.
A tourism expert, Sam Botomani, who is also a former executive director of Malawi Tourism Council, said this in the wake of the closure of 25 tourism enterprises following the Malawi Tourism Board annual inspection exercise.
The annual inspection exercise is aimed at ensuring that local tourism enterprises including restaurants, bars, lodges, hotels and rest houses offer minimum comfort to tourists.
The board has also put under re-inspection about 500 tourism enterprises, including Malawi Sun Hotel, for failure to comply with the minimum standards of the Tourism and Hotels Board of Malawi while over 1 000 tourism enterprises have been given licences.
However, Botomani said while most of the affected establishments may be small and upcoming, there is need to look beyond to ensure that Malawi’s tourism enterprises offer services of international standards.
“We need to look beyond hygiene, safety and the location because, sometimes, a place might qualify in all these aspects, but you will find that it has only one shower, one common place to wash hands and even poor ventilation,” he said.
Botomani said he decision to close down the tourism enterprises might be hard on the owners, but it provides them with a platform to learn and aim high.
Director of tourism Isaac Katopola said the exercise has always aimed at keeping in check the operators; hence, enforcing minimum standards for them.
“We always keep them in check so that the services they are providing to the travelling public should be of acceptable standard.
“This exercise ensures that tourists are provided with the minimum comfort,” he said.
Katopola warned operators who deliberately shun being licensed that they risk closure once they are found.
Tourism is one of the key sectors of the economy. In 2015, it contributed 3.4 percent to the gross domestic product (GDP), which was about K105 billion. Government plans to increase its contribution to GDP this year. n