Malawi leader to deliver keynote address at UN tourism summit in Zimbabwe

Malawi President Joyce Banda is on Monday expected to brief the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) on her government’s recent actions to ease the issuance of visas and improve air access, to facilitate increased tourism to Malawi.

This follows her invitation to deliver the keynote address at the Ministerial Round Table at the UNWTO summit to be held at Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, which will focus on ‘visa facilitation as a means to support tourism growth, socio-economic development and job creation’.

Presidential press secretary Steven Nhlane says in a statement that during the roundtable, “Malawi will present a paper on the significant developments that are taking place in the country aimed at restructuring the issuance of visas to tourists and the general travelling public to improve tourism and economic growth in line with the objectives of the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy (MGDS) and the recently adopted Economic Recovery Plan (ERP)”.

Tourism is one of the five pillars of the country’s economic recovery programme aimed at improving the economy which include energy, mining, agriculture and infrastructure.

President Banda: To deliver keynote address
President Banda: To deliver keynote address

According to Nhlane, Malawi often described as the ‘warm heart of Africa’ is blessed with a large freshwater lake, with diversity of fish species surpassed by no other fresh water body.

“It boasts of beautiful rolling hills and mountains that offer a rare experience to mountain climbers, bird watchers and extreme adventure enthusiasts,” he says.

Despite all this, potential tourists and foreign investors have often cited bureaucratic hurdles and access to the country as some of the key factors that affect decisions to come to Malawi.

President Banda recently assumed the Chair of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC).  In accepting the position at last week’s Summit of SADC leaders in Lilongwe, she called for the strengthening of efforts to facilitate the movement of people within the region.

Commenting on the round table discussion, President Banda described the event as “Our chance to push ahead with necessary travel facilitation measures that will allow tourism to continue to grow, generating jobs and prosperity within our region”.

The UNWTO General Assembly, a leading organisation in the field of tourism, meets every two years to debate topics of importance to the tourism sector.

This year’s General Assembly, which is being co-hosted by Zambia and Zimbabwe.

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