As one way of exposing the country’s tourism potential both locally and internationally, the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism plans to invite global tourism players in Lilongwe at a one-day conference.
The conference, which will be held in Lilongwe on April 6, is jointly being organised by the Malawi government with assistance from Malawi Stock Exchange (MSE)-listed hotel chain Sunbird Tourism, Malawi Tourism Council and GIZ.
It is expected to attract between 150 and 200 local and international delegates.
Director of tourism Isaac Katopola said in an interview this week the tourism sector has huge potential, adding that in 2015 alone, it contributed K221 billion to the economy which is 7.2 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP).
He said: “The rationale behind this conference is to fulfil government plans which identified tourism as one of the sectors with potential to help the economy grow. “For tourism to grow further, it requires the intervention of various stakeholders from private, government and all tourism establishment because this sector has the potential to propel our economy far.”
Katopola said the conference, which is modeled on the Malawi Investment Forum (MIF) concept, will provide players in the tourism sector an opportunity to share ideas, discuss tourism opportunities and map the way forward.
“This conference will raise the country’s profile among the locals as well as international visitors and we are calling all players in this sector to avail themselves for this important event.
“Since tourism establishments are in both local and rural areas, they can play a huge role in taking people out of poverty,” he said.
Kasungu Inn managing director Edmore Munthali said the conference has come at the right time when many players in the tourism sector are struggling to get customers due to the tough economic climate.
“This [conference] is good because it will give us a chance to voice out challenges we are facing in running our establishments. Like in the case of Kasungu Inn, we are barely surviving and we are looking forward to the conference. We do not want to fire people, but the truth is we are operating in tough environment.”
Malawi Tourism Council chairperson Florentine Kabefu said the conference will act as a platform where government and the private sector will share ideas and map the way forward.
“Every country needs a similar platform to plan ahead. This being a first conference to take place in Malawi, it will help us a great deal to take the country’s tourism to another level,” she said.
On challenges the sector is facing, Kabefu said most operators have stabilised because they can now plan because spending habits for the local tourists are now predictable. n