Players in the hospitality industry have faulted government for banning ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) from holding meetings outside their duty stations, saying the move will cripple their operations.
The players’ reaction follows an order new Secretary to the President and Cabinet (SPC) Colleen Zamba issued on Wednesday as one way of enforcing austerity measures outlined by President Lazarus Chakwera last week.
In an interview yesterday, Malawi Tourism Council board chairperson Jones Malili said there was need to promote domestic tourism and that government remains the biggest customer.
“As such, the decision could cripple the sector. We plan to engage government to reconsider its blanket ban and propose how the little piece of cake can be shared amongst the urban operators as well as lakeshore operators,” he said.
Malili said previous administrations tried the same, but the impact resulted in closure and loss of business of small operators along the lakeshore.
“You don’t fill up a hole by digging another hole. Government should find a way of spreading the limited resources it has across the board rather than applying a blanket ban,” he said.
Malili further said tourism is just resuscitating from Covid-19 impact.
But Economics Association of Malawi president Frank Chikuta advised the hospitality industry to diversify its customer base as well as put in incentives for local tourism so that people are able to patronise such places.
He asked government to put in place policies that may transform the economy other than imposing abrupt transitions.
Said Chikuta: “As an economy, our structure is not good, this is why there is overreliance of one customer for business to thrive. This is not good because if that customer pulls out, then the business risks collapsing.”
Zamba said the measures have been introduced to tame waste because people in the public sector largely use activities to benefit financially.
She said: “One of the important aspects in the civil service is the optimal use of human and financial resources. So, we have issued circulars on the new measures, explaining them to the PSs and as the President announced, more will be coming.”
Tourism is one of the fastest growing sectors in the world and plays a significant role in Malawi’s economy.
According to World Travel and Tourism Council, the sector directly contributes about K158 billion annually, representing 3.5 percent of the gross domestic product.
The sector supports direct and indirect employment of 524 500 jobs, representing 6.7 percent of employment.
It also contributes about K25 billion to foreign exchange earnings annually through visitor exports. This represents about two percent of total exports.
Malawi attracts about 800 000 visitors annually.