Despite having a beautiful Lake, Malawi is still an unnoticed tourism destination in Southern Africa, says the World Bank

The World Bank says Malawi remains an under-the-radar destination in the Southern Africa region despite tourism offering positive returns in the economy by creating jobs for skilled and unskilled labour.

The presidential cruise on Lake Malawi

This is according to a blog by the bank’s senior private sector development specialist Efrem Chilima and its senior private sector specialist Qursum Qasim posted on on Monday.

Chilima and Qasim argue that positioning Malawi’s lake tourism as a must-see destination in Southern Africa and air linking the country to nearby popular destinations in South Africa and Zambia could help position Malawi as a tourist destination.

Reads the blog in part: “Positioning Malawi’s lake tourism as a must-see destination in Southern Africa, with the Unesco World Heritage Site of Lake Malawi as its centerpiece, offers a viable opportunity.

“The country’s land and air links to nearby popular destinations in South Africa and Zambia is an opportunity for Malawi to position itself as an indelible part of the regional package. Opportunities for greening tourism in Malawi abound, from developing off-grid electricity generation to eco-tourism activities.”

An analysis based on published World Travel and Tourism Council data shows that although Malawi is touted as the most attractive and complete destination in Africa, her earnings from international tourism are minimal.

For instance, while Malawi was able to generate $39.4 million (about K69 billion) in 2019 from international visitor spending, the earnings are 9.9 percent below the pre-Covid time at $35.5 million (about K62 billion) in 2023.

Projections show that this year, Malawi could generate $42.9 million (about K75 billion) from international visitor spending, representing a 20.7 percent jump.

The Malawi Government has been on the drive to grow the number of tourists from the pre-Covid-19 figure of 900 000 to 1.5 million per year by 2030. Currently, the country gets about 600 000 tourists annually.

To maximise the tourism industry’s potential and increase foreign exchange generation, Malawi has removed visa fees on international tourists

The waiver is expected to apply to countries such as the United Kingdom, United States of America, The Netherlands, Germany, Australia, Belgium, Italy, France, Poland, Norway, Finland, Sweden, China, Russia and Canada.

Malawi Tourism Council chairperson Justin Dzinkambani said in an interview yesterday that investment in tourism product development should be significant to boost tourist numbers that can sustain the industry.

Minister of Tourism Vera Kamtukule is quoted as having acknowledged that while it is expensive to come to Malawi, there are other issues that put off tourists, obscuring the country’s potential to become a competitive tourist destination.

Tourism is among the three priority sectors under agriculture, tourism and mining (ATM) strategy to drive economic transformation, but its performance has been below potential, contributing about 5.5 percent to the country’s gross domestic product.


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