The Malawi Government and the private sector players in the tourism industry have cried foul over poor business performance in 2019 owing to post-election violence and ongoing political impasse.
In an interview, director of tourism Isaac Katopola said that currently, it is hard to quantify how much was lost in the economy.
He said: “You are aware that for people to make a decision to travel, a place they are travelling to must be in relative peace and tranquility. But in our case, after elections, we saw running battles, demonstrations and looting that filtered into travellers that scared them to travel, affecting business performance.
“A lot of tourists both local and international cancelled their travel plans to Malawi or within Malawi. In other cases, tourists even failed to travel from Blantyre to Lilongwe.”
On the positive side, Katopola said the industry saw the coming in of new facilities in the country such as hotels and serious investment in wildlife, which is among the major tourist attraction initiatives.
Malawi Tourism Council board chairperson Tim Van Der Linden, in a written response on Tuesday, said 2019 looked promising at the start.
He, however, said elections and all activities around it led to last minute cancellations of national and international guests.
He said: “We have received a huge number of complaints from the tourism sector on this. Unfortunately, the timing of the elections were parallel with the potential tourism high season; hence, a lot of operators have suffered.
“For some operators, the high season felt as low season [March – December] or even worse. We hope that 2020 will be business peak year to cover the losses of 2019”.
According to World Tourism and Travel Council (WTTC), as of March this year, tourism remained static in the past two years contributing 7.7 percent to gross deomestic product (GDP).
WTTC says in monetary terms, the sectors’ contribution to GDP translated to $553 million (about K400 billion) annually.
The Malawi Government recognises tourism as a priority sector that can be used as a vehicle for economic growth and poverty alleviation as outlined in the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy (MGDS III).