The local tourism industry slightly improved in 2021 after being worst hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, published figures from the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) show.
WTTC country analysis published on Tuesday shows that the tourism sector contribution to the gross domestic product (GDP) rose to 5.8 percent, generating $512.8 million (about K528 billion in revenue and creating additional 15 600 jobs to hit 513 200.
During the same period in 2020, the sector’s contribution to the economy stood at 5.7 percent of GDP and generated $490.8 million (about K506 billion), the figures show.
The figures further show that in 2019, the sector’s contribution to GDP stood at 7.3 percent and generated $622.2 million (about K703.7 billion) and created 586 500 jobs.
In a statement accompanying the report, WTTC president and chief executive officer Julia Simpson said the future is bright, with tourism GDP and employment expected to reach pre-pandemic levels by next year.
“The recovery in 2021 was slower than expected due in part to the impact of the Omicron variant but mainly due to an uncoordinated approach by governments which rejected the advice of the World Health Organisation, which maintained that closing borders would not stop the spread of the virus but would only serve to damage economies and livelihoods,” she said.
Minister of Tourism, Culture and Wildlife Michael Usi was not immediately available to comment on the report, but earlier said domestic tourism has been the biggest cushion for the sector.
“Our plans for the next financial year is to do more domestic marketing in conjunction with the private sector and local councils,” he said.”
Malawi Tourism Council chairperson John Malili earlier admitted that domestic tourism is doing well as local tourists appreciate the precautions put in place to avoid the spread of Covid-19.
The tourism sector is a high growth export service sector capable of making a substantial contribution to the socio-economic development of Malawi, according to WTTC.
Employment created within the sector has the potential to drive prosperity and empower both women and youths.
The sector also generates foreign exchange through visitor exports, tax and non-tax revenues.