The Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Wildlife has closed 20 hospitality establishments due to non-payment of licence fees.
In an interview yesterday in Blantyre, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Wildlife Michael Usi said they closed all businesses that were yet to remit their 2022 licence fees as stipulated under the Tourism and Hotel Act.
He said the exercise was important because it is about enforcing compliance on tourism operators as some have been operating illegally.
Said Usi: “It is not war as these are our stakeholders. We had to talk, negotiate and see how we could navigate this amicably. But after seeing that they are not complying we had to enforce the laws.
“The aim is to enforce discipline and not as a punitive measure.”
Chief tourism officer responsible for standards and safety Charles Kacherenga said the licences are important as they are a certification that the said business unit has been inspected and passed fit to operate.
He said: “We are doing this across the country. In total we have about 500 units that have not come forward to collect their tourism licences out of 15 800 properties that we have in the country.
“In the Southern Region alone we have about 300 defaulters.”
Kacherenga said the ministry targets to collect about K15 million from the exercise.
The licence fees for bigger units are pegged at K640 000 and when a business is closed, the penalty fee is K50 000.