Hotels and lodges operating along the lakeshore risk closure if they do not conform with requirements stipulated in the Environmental Management Act of 1996.
The Environmental Affairs Department under the Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining is conducting inspections in collaboration with the Department of Tourism and National Water Resources Authority.
The development comes barely a month after government and the Parliamentary Committee on Natural Resources and Climate Change clashed over the alleged contamination of water in Shire River by Hippo View Lodge and Shire Lodge in Liwonde, Machinga.
In an interview yesterday, Environmental Affairs Department spokesperson Sangwani Phiri said inspection started in Karonga and some parts of Mangochi to ensure professional disposal of waste matter.
“The inspections are ongoing and are important as they will promote hygiene which is pertinent in the tourism sector, a sector that is contributing a lot to the government in terms of revenue.
“Our aim is not to kill the business, but we know that the more business that the tourism sector gets, the more the government gets, that is why we have to do our part to ensure that there is hygiene and sanitation,” he said.
Phiri said they have not had major issues, but once they find that one is not conforming with Act, they give owners seven days to come for discussion on where they should improve.
“If there is no change in a month we close the facility,” he said.
On his part, the director of tourism in the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism Isaac Katopola said they will only come in as partners to assist the Environmental Affairs Department with the data base of tourism units along the water bodies.
Tourism is one of the critical sectors in the country’s development and figures from the Malawi Government Annual Economic Report 2017 show that the sector contributes about seven percent to gross domestic product (GDP). n