In a bid to increase its market share and brand visibility, Sunbird Tourism Limited has signed a 10-year management contract with African Parks (Majete) Limited for the running of Thawale Lodge and Mwembezi Restaurant in Chikwawa.
The partnership is effective February 1 this year.
Following the signing of the management contract, Thawale Lodge and Mwembezi restaurant will now be called Sunbird Thawale Lodge, which brings to eight the number of establishments owned by the listed hotel chain.
Sunbird is 71 percent owned by Malawi government, 16.44 percent by United Kingdom-based investor Noel Hayes and 12.56 percent by the public.
In an interview on the sidelines of the signing ceremony on Thursday in Blantyre, Sunbird chairperson Phillip Madinga said the move is in line with Sunbird’s strategic plans of expanding and promoting tourism in the country.
He said: “We had set ourselves two years ago to go into ecotourism area and the signing of this agreement means the aspirations that we have are coming to fruition.
“Sunbird is the largest hospitality business in the country, and with this signing, we are adding a new baby into our franchise.”
Madinga said they are also looking at expanding some of the businesses they have at Sunbird Thawale Lodge.
He said they want to partner with government to promote tourism in the country.
Madinga said with the 33 percent market share in the hospitality industry, “our aspiration is to be the market leader in this market, and if we are to be dominant, we have to take everything on the market, but we know there is competition out there”.
He said the company is also looking at putting up a 500-seater conference facility in Blantyre, which would help the business community in Southern Region in running their business affairs such as conferences.
In his remarks, African Parks Majete chairperson Bob Renshaw said the signing of the contract is expected to double the numbers of visitors at the game reserve, which will up its business.
“We are experts for conservation and Sunbird brings in their hospitality expertise so that they can bring people to the park. We expect visitations to double at Majete with the coming in of Sunbird,” he said.
However, Renshaw said poaching, which is a serious problem in the country, has affected their business.
“Poaching is a serious problem and now we are developing teams to control poaching as it is about creating a safe haven,” he said.
African Parks has managed the game reserve in Chikwawa since 2003, overseeing reinvigorated management, law enforcement and concerted community collaboration, which has transformed the park into one of the country’s leading tourism destinations
It is currently managing 10 parks and seven game reserves in other countries in Africa.
Apart from Majete Game Reserve, Africa Parks is also managing Liwonde National Park in the Eastern Region and Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve in the Central Region. n