The tourism sector could achieve higher growth and contribute more to the national economy if policymakers integrate the sector into sectoral policies so that it is prominent at all levels of decision-making, it has been learnt.
Experts say tourism could be one of the fastest growing sectors in the country and surpass its current contribution to gross domestic product (GDP) of 7.2 percent as of last year, according to the Malawi Government Annual Economic Report 2016.
The sector, being cross-cutting in nature, is highly impacted by policy decisions in other sectors, including lands, transportation, health, communication and local governance.
Developments in other sectors, therefore, affect the development of the tourism sector, according to tourism experts.
Department of Tourism principal tourism officer Sarah Njanji in an interview last week said with dialogue and constant consultation, there can be improved decision-making processes that will harness the growth and development of tourism in the country.
She said: “Issues such as access to the destination,
connectivity to travel hubs, nature and quality of facilities, safety and rescue facilities and travel insurance come into play.
“Currently, Malawi has limitations in some of these aspects and is in need of further developments to be able to compete with more popular tourist destinations within the region and worldwide.”
Njanji said lack of readily available land for investment and attractiveness of investment incentives has affected the growth of tourism in Malawi; hence, the need to offer attractive and competitive investment incentives to woe both local and foreign investors.
In an earlier interview, head of tourism department at Mzuzu University, James Chilembwe, said the sector cannot develop in isolation; hence, the need to integrate it with other sectors, including energy, transport and infrastructure.
“Tourism industry in Malawi has a potential to grow as long as there is a political will by both the public and private sectors.
“It is just a matter of addressing supporting infrastructure services, updating and enforcement of laws, introduction of corporate social responsibility national guideline document to promote community tourism projects to increase employment and responsible or environmental tourism protection by both locals and foreign tourists,” he said.
As one way of exposing the country’s tourism potential locally and internationally, the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism plans to invite global tourism players at a one-day conference in Lilongwe.
The conference, which will be held on April 6, is jointly being organised by the Malawi Government with assistance from Malawi Stock Exchange (MSE)-listed hotel chain Sunbird Tourism Limited, Malawi Tourism Council and GIZ.
It is expected to attract between 150 and 200 local and international delegates.
Figures show that between 2011 and 2015, international arrivals have grown by 4.8 percent from 767 000 visitors in 2011 to 804 000 in 2015. n