Management of Sunbird Tourism Limited on Monday expressed reservations with pronouncements that the listed local hotel management firm will only be allowed to run the Bingu wa Mutharika Conference Centre, the President Hotel and the Presidential Villa in Lilongwe for three months.
The company argues the period set is too short for one to be fairly assessed.
Speaking during the handover ceremony of the facilities by the contractor, Shanghai Construction Company of China to the Malawi Government in Lilongwe Sunbird chief executive officer Rodger Gardner said he is not amused by those who are saying that Sunbird will run the facility for three months.
Last week, principal secretary in the Ministry of Tourism Wildlife and Culture Fletcher Zenengeya said that Sunbird will run the facility for three months before being assessed because other players had also expressed interest to run it.
Among those who expressed interest is a South African company, Peermont.
But in an interview, Gardner said there is nothing one can do in three months because the period is just enough to set oneself up.
Gardner said the five-star hotel and conference centre is the finest asset Malawians have seen and that in the long-term it will create massive employment opportunities.
In his speech, Minister of Tourism and Culture Daniel Liwimbi said the centre is poised to change the face of tourism in the country as it is one of the biggest conference venues in Africa with capacity to accommodate over 3 500 people.
Said Liwimbi: “This facility will assist in positioning Malawi as a preferred quality destination for meetings, incentives, conferences and events [Mice].”
Minister of Transport and Infrastructure Development Mohammad Sidik Mia said the new centre will complement surrounding hotels such as Sunbird Capital and Sogecoa Golden Peacock, making it convenient for guests.
Malawi Government borrowed $95 million from the Peopleâ€™s Republic of China to construct the hotel, the conference centre and the presidential villas and, according to Mia, the loan will take 30 years to be repaid.