Minister of Tourism, Culture and Wildlife Michael Usi says his ministry has secured about K656 million ($800 000) to empower small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the tourism sector.
The minister, who on Monday led Malawians in commemorating World Tourism Day under the theme Tourism for Inclusive Growth, said government is putting in place measures to empower players in the tourism industry, especially after being heavily hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.
He said the money was secured to empower SMEs and the disbursement of the funds will start this October.
Usi said: “We have secured a $800 000 matching grant facility from the African Development Bank. This will benefit 50 tourism SMEs which are currently struggling to access cheaper financing to enhance their competitiveness. Disbursement of the matching grant will start in the coming month.”
He said government was promoting joint ventures between foreign and local operators to ensure skills transfer to local operators in the management of protected areas and investment arrangements.
Usi said the initiatives also seek to hook the domestic supply chain such as local farmers, curio and crafts sellers and other locally produced goods and services into the tourism value chain.
The minister lamented that the pandemic has heavily affected the tourism sector, leading to closure of tourism businesses and loss of jobs.
He said the ministry will ensure that measures have been put in place to empower the players so that they boost their businesses but also create jobs.
Village head Chingalire in Traditional Authority Kalolo in Lilongwe, who is promoting culture through the cultural village concept, called on the government to promote the cultural villages where tourists can be accommodated and learn more about culture.
The chief, widely known as Ben Mankhamba when he actively played music, said tourists want to learn more about Malawi’s culture and not experience the hospitality in modern hotels and lodges.
“They have these other facilities. Even the lake, they have experienced the fun in water bodies but what they want to learn is about our culture,” he said.
The tourism industry in Malawi has been heavily affected by Covid-19. Restrictions on travel and other measures saw players losing out on businesses which in turn led to loss of jobs.