Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Wildlife is reviewing the Tourism and Hotels Act of 1968 which players in the sector say is outdated to support its growth.
In a written response, chief tourism officer Sarah Njanji said having the law concentrated on the hotel industry has posed challenges as the sector has diversified over the years.
She said: “This has brought in a challenge for us in terms of listing of properties as some of the booking platforms do not require that these properties be registered and licensed by the authorities.
“Therefore, the review of the Act will certainly improve the delivery of services within the sector since a Tourism Authority will be created to regulate and promote the sector in a responsive manner.”
“Further, the current institutional framework is inadequate to effectively facilitate implementation of plans and programmes.”
The development comes in the wake of declining tourism contribution to the economy.
According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, travel and tourism contribution to Malawi’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2020 declined by 50.2 percent.
During the year under review, tourism and trade contributed 3.3 percent of GDP or K207 billion, down from 2019’s contribution of 6.7 percent or K416 billion.
The sector also lost 32.5 percent or 167 000 of jobs from 516 000 jobs representing 6.8 percent of total employment in 2019 to 349 000 or 4.6 percent in 2020.
Meanwhile, Malawi Tourism Council board chairperson Jones Malili said the review of the Act is long overdue as tourism was restricted to certain products and services.
He said: “There are many products and services which are part of tourism and hospitality so they have to be properly regulated or supported by an enabling law.
“Many business practices that fall into tourism realm will be properly regulated and supported”.
Malili, however, called for the need for wider consultations as most players in the sectorare unaware of the review process.
To promote tourism in the country and make it more competitive within the region, Minister of Finance Felix Mlusu announced in his 2021/22 Budget Statement in Parliament that government has aligned the multiple entry visa charges with those in neighbouring countries by reducing them from the current $150 (K117 000) to $80 (K62 000).
In the same vein, he said the single entry visa charge has been reduced from $75 (58 650) to $50 (39 000).
Speaking when he opened Segocoa Golden Peacock in Blantyre last October, President Lazarus Chakwera said government would introduce a wide range of tourism investment incentives over and above the current ones to make Malawi a more attractive tourism investment destination.