Ministry of Information, Tourism and Civic Education and Malawi Tourism Council (MTC) have differed on the introduction of $75 (K42 000) visa fee for European and Asian nationals.
While the ministry has defended the move, saying it is government’s policy of running the country, Malawi Tourism Council (MTC) says the new visa system will have a negative impact on the tourism sector.
Some regional neighbours such as Zambia and Zimbabwe have entered into a one visa agreement through which tourists enter several countries at a single fee of $50 (K28 000).
Experts say Malawi is out-pricing itself on the tourism market with its single country fee at $75.
But in an interview this week in Blantyre, Secretary for Information, Tourism and Civic Education Justin Saidi downplayed the impact of this move, saying it will have no effect on tourists visiting Malawi.
He said: “Every government has its own policy and ours is, among others, to introduce visa fees. As you are aware, we are operating on locally sourced [financial] resources as a result of [donors pulling out due to] the Cashgate scandal. We just want to ensure that we have enough money for running the country.”
Saidi said government is optimistic of generating more revenue from tourism due to the introduction of visas.
While appreciating that it is government’s policy, MTC chairperson Florentine Kabefu said the new visa regime will disadvantage Malawi.
“The new visa system is going to have an impact on the tourism sector in the country because tourists will now start weighing whether it is worth to come to Malawi,” she said.
When announcing the introduction of visas, Minister of Home Affairs and Internal Security Jean Kalilani said Malawi is not for free.
She said the arrangement excludes nationals of Common Market for Eastern and Southern African (Comesa) and Southern Africa Development Community (Sadc) except Angola.