Malawi President Joyce Banda has said her government will ‘rationalise’ the country’s visa regime as one way of attracting more tourists in the country.
Banda said this when she opened the 44th Session of Parliament on Friday.
“To promote tourism and foreign investment into Malawi, government will rationalise the visa regime so that bona fide tourists are able to visit the country without much difficulties,” said Banda.
The President’s statement comes barely three months after renowned business guru, Thomson Mpinganjira, who is also FDH Financial Holdings Limited chief executive officer asked government to introduce an electronic visa (e-visa) system which allows tourists wishing to visit the country to get visa through the Immigration portal or website.
He said doing so would make Malawi accessible to tourists and potential investors as opposed to the present situation where the Malawi visa is only obtained in countries where Malawi has an embassy.
Malawi is represented in only 14 countries in the world and this makes visa application extremely difficult and costly, according to local tourist analysts.
Mpinganjira made the suggestion in Mangochi during an annual congress by the Economics Association of Malawi (Ecama) which was also graced by Banda.
Banda said government is also in the process of implementing an open sky policy which will allow more and competitive flights in and out of Malawi.
She said she was pleased to learn that international media houses such as BBC, CNN and National Geographical Channel continue to feature Malawi as “a must-see tourist destination in the world”.
“In this regard, government has intensified aggressive marketing strategies and campaigns targeting countries like the UK, Germany, China, Netherlands and South Africa, among others, with the aim of increasing the number of international tourists coming into the country,” said Banda.
The President emphasised that her government is also focusing on the promotion of conference tourism and efforts are being made to create a conducive environment.
She said to realise this, an operator to manage the Presidential Village, Bingu Conference Centre and Presidential Hotel will be engaged.
Banda also said government intends to upgrade the Bingu Conference Centre and Presidential Hotel into an integrated world-class tourism destination.
“Mr. Speaker sir, government is inviting serious investors to develop Cape Maclear, Salima and Likoma Island tourist centres on Lake Malawi and promote water sports,” added the President.