Ministry of Information, Tourism and Civic Education says Malawians need to understand that tourism is not just about hotels and lodges, but it also involves culture, food, music and art and crafts, among others.
Director of tourism in the ministry, Patricia Liabuba, said this on Saturday on the sidelines of a street carnival held from the department’s offices at City Centre to Game Stores Complex, Lilongwe City Mall, in Area 3.
She said the parade sought to cement the relationship between government and the private sector with a view of working together towards promoting the tourism industry.
“The message is clear, and we need to diversify our tourism industry by incorporating other things than the usual hotel and lodge businesses. And as a country there is a lot that we can offer that could still make tourists attracted and continue flocking into the country,” said Liabuba.
The event, which is among activities planned to mark this year’s tourism month, attracted players from both the public and private sectors. They included hotel and catering service providers, the One Village One Product (Ovop) and Malawi Airlines.
This year’s theme is ‘One Million Tourists, One Million opportunities’.
Liabuba said the possibility of scaling up the number of tourists visiting the country and creating a million jobs is there. However, she said achieving this required government and its stakeholders to agree and work towards a common goal.
“We are optimistic of reaching up to one million tourists by the year 2020. However, this is dependent on the policies that we implement as well as the incentives we add to the tourism industry,” she said.
Activities planned for the month include the opening of Simama Hotel in Lilongwe, a networking session for policymakers and a music concert at the Lake of Stars in Mangochi.
Malawi Tourism Council executive director Rosebill Satha Sambo said the Malawi tourism sector requires diversity and seriousness by the people themselves if it is to realise its potential of growth.
“The industry is promising and we just have to work on few areas to make it more vibrant and attractive to both local and international visitors,” Sambo said.
The World Tourism Day is celebrated on September 27. The day was set aside in 1970 when the statutes of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) were adopted.
The purpose of the day is to raise awareness on the role of tourism within the international community and to demonstrate how it affects social, cultural, political and economic values worldwide.
The Malawi tourism industry is dominated by foreigners who operate and patronise tourist attraction sites along the lake and within wildlife reserves in the country.
Somehow, the dominance by foreigners in the operation of the tourist attraction sites hinders most locals from patronising them as operators often charge in dollars and not in local currency.