Minister encourages Malawians to value domestic tourism for economic development

Tourism, Culture and Wildlife Minister, Michael Usi, has said that domestic tourism has the potential to contribute significantly to the overall growth of the country’s economy.

He made the remarks at Mount Soche Hotel in Blantyre on Wednesday, 4 August 2021 when he officially launched the Malawi Domestic and Outbound Tourism Survey Report produced the National Statistical Office (NSO).

For so long, tourism in Malawi has always been linked to people coming to Malawi from outside, saying this is a narrow and often wrong perception, which must change, he said.

Usi said evidence has shown that domestic tourism is very important and if harnessed, can be an economic growth accelerator, which can create massive employment for the youths.

“I am cognizant of the general perception that when we talk of tourism, the first thing that comes to mind is international tourism. You may, however, wish to note that research has shown that the value of domestic tourism is about eight times more than that of international tourism.

“In Malawi, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council, domestic tourism account for 90 percent of the country’s total tourism with international tourism accounting for the remaining 10 percent.

“Research has shown that an investment in tourism of USD250,000 creates 182 permanent jobs in tourism as compared to 130 jobs in agriculture and 120 in mining sectors. Further, research has shown that a drop in tourism revenue of USD1 million results in a drop of two to four times drop in the agriculture, manufacturing and other sectors as tourism has a huge economic impact on other sectors,” said the minister.

Usi also said domestic tourism is even more critical now when Malawi is trying to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic because of the low international tourism traffic. He added that the results of the Domestic and Outbound Tourism Survey Report will, therefore, help the Department of Tourism to have a deeper insight and appreciation of the actual value and volume of Malawi’s domestic tourism.

He said: “I am also aware that this report is a key milestone in the development of the Tourism Satellite Account, which once completed will provide sound statistical information system that will accurately measure the contribution of tourism to the national economy.

“It may also please you to note that the Tourism Satellite Account system tracks tourist expenditure across the whole economy. Currently, the only expenditure measured in the tourism account is accommodation, food and beverage leaving out the expenditure made in other tourism activities such as transport, payment for tourist activities such as entry to national parks, boat rides among others. This will guide our policy and decision makers in developing appropriate policies in order to grow the sector and realise its full potential.”

The minister expressed delight that the Commissioner of Statistics, Mercy Kanyuka, is a woman, saying it is commendable considering that statistics has always been considered as a male dominated field.

He said seeing a woman heading such a department adds credence to the country’s drive for women empowerment and gender equality.

Kanyuka said the survey, carried out from 7 September 2019 to 4 November 2020 in order to obtain statistical data that will contribute to the development of Malawi’s tourism sector, established that despite that 87 percent of Malawians are aware of the many tourism sites in the country, only just a handful of them actually travel to the sites for purposes of tourism.

She said a total of 2,850,000 same day domestic trips were undertaken by 30.3 percent of households in the country and spending a total of MK92.9 billion, but added that the main reasons for making such trips were to visit friends and trading in the main cities of Blantyre and Lilongwe and less about tourism.

Kanyuka thanked minister for sitting throughout the presentation and participating in the question and answer session including taking questions from the audience, something that she said was rare among ministers and most executives. She said it was her first time to see a minister sitting out during such types of discussions and even taking questions.

The launch was graced by various stakeholders such as the Mzuzu University; University of Malawi; MUST, hotel operators, among others.

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