Players in the tourism sector and businesses have breathed a sigh of relief following the lifting of some travel restrictions government imposed to control the spread of Covid-19.
The Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 last week eased some travel restrictions on people from countries previously regarded as Covid-19 high-risk and conditions for those visiting the country.
For the past months, travel in and out of Malawi was limited to only a number of reasons and countries, a development that hugely affected businesses and the tourism sector.
Malawi Tourism Council chairperson Johns Malili said in a written response on Tuesday that the sector is pleased that government relaxed some travel restrictions.
He said: “We find the decision as timely as we are going into the country’s peak season for tourism.
“The decision will go a long way in boosting the country’s tourism business, which has suffered a lot due to the Covid-19 effects,” he said.
Malili said many international tourists had ready itineraries to visit the country and they anticipate that tourism business will pick up.
“We see tourism institutions hiring back the staff that were retrenched be it on full time or casual basis,” he said.
Malili further appealed to tourism establishment operators to continue exercising precautions in all their undertakings so that tourists are protected.
On his part, Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry president James Chimwaza said in an interview on Tuesday the move is bound to benefit the country’s economy.
“This is definitely good news for businesses and the country, which has suffered a huge loss in the year as we continue to see a drop in international traffic,” he said.
Meanwhile, data contained in the 2021 Malawi Government Annual Economic Report indicated that challenges associated with Covid-19 will negatively affect the performance of the tourism and hospitality industry across the globe.
The figures further show that Malawi’s travel tourism contribution to the gross domestic product (GDP) declined by 50.2 percent and that the sector contributed 3.3 percent of GDP or K207 billion, down from K416 billion in 2019. By mid-2020, Malawi lost about K42 billion in potential revenue through cancellation of confirmed bookings and estimated 300 000 people lost jobs.