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Hotel group pins hope for business revival on Sadc summit
August 13, 2021 / Bester Kayaye

Mangochi based Sun and Sand Hotels says it is hoping for business revival with Malawi hosting the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) head of states summit and scaling up its immunization programme against the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

Human Resources Manager for the hotel group Martin Juma told Mining and Trade Review that business has been bad for the group and other tourism players due to containment measures that countries put in place to fight Covid-19 such as boarder closures.

Juma, however, was optimistic that business will pick up with the country’s hosting of the summit which will result in an increased number of visitors.

He said; “We are more than prepared to host these delegates as they are to spend their two weekends in the country and as Sun and Sand we have prepared all our conference rooms and diverse lucrative amenities ahead of this summit. We are more than ready to host any sort of meetings in our facilities.”

“We have a swimming pool with all sort niceties to suite everyone, we have also come up with special menus for the delegates of which everyone’s favorite Chambo fish is inclusive.”

He also said the hotel is ready with boats to take guests on game viewing safari to explore Lake Malawi National Park and view other places of interest including Cape MaClear.

Juma also assured guests visiting their resorts of sufficient protection from Covid-19 saying they are following all protection measures as advised by the Ministry of Health.

“We have disinfection chambers and temperature checks right from gate entrance, and everyone entering or leaving our facilities is mandated to abide by these measures,” he said

Malawi is hosting the 41st SADC Summit from August 9 to August 19, 2021 that will see state President, Dr. Lazarus Chakwera taking over leadership from Mozambique’s President, Filipe Nyusi.

Malawi Govt. positions tourism sector for SADC Summit
August 02, 2021 / Noel Mkwaila

The Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture says it will use the forth coming Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) summit to expose Malawi’s tourism attraction sites and activities.

Tourism Minister Michael Usi revealed this in an interview saying this is an opportunity for the country to market its tourism industry.

Usi said his Ministry is currently drafting a plan on how to engage local players in the sector to take advantage of the summit, slated for this August.

“We are in the process of finalizing the program where specific products have been arranged to be showcased to summit participants,” he said adding that the Ministry is also engaging stakeholders from other countries to establish relationships beyond the summit.

Gule Wamkulu and other traditional dances have been lined up to entertain the coming Heads of States and delegates. The beauty of Lake Malawi will also be highlighted to attract the visitors. Malawi will host the 41st SADC Summit from August 9 to August 19, 2021 that will see state President, Dr. Lazarus Chakwera taking over leadership from Mozambique’s President, Filipe Nyusi.

Blantyre Hotels advances plans to construct four star hotel in Lilongwe
April 01, 2021 / Nelson Gonjani

Tourism Group, Blantyre Hotels, says it is advancing with preparations to construct a five star hotel in Lilongwe to be called Lilongwe Ryalls Hotel.

The Group says in a financial statement for the year ended September 2020 that it will own the Lilongwe Ryalls Hotel through its subsidiary Oasis Hospitality Limited.

The hotel is to be on a piece of land which is part of the land owned by the Lilongwe Golf Club.

“During the year, the freehold land was acquired from Lilongwe Golf Club at a consideration of K2.1 billion,” reads the statement.

Blantyre Hotels registered a loss a loss of K454 million after tax in the financial year as compared to previous year’s profit of K467million representing a decrease of 197%.

The hotel group says in the statement the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic posed a challenge to the operating environment and its impact might be for a longer period than anticipated.

The total revenue for the group amounted to K2,077 billion which was 49% for the year 2019 of K4,066 billion.

“The drop in revenue was due to the impact of the Covid -19 pandemic which had an adverse effect in the hospitality industry worldwide. Ryalls Hotel, occupancy levels were at 30% compared to 61% achieved for the same period last year,’’ says the Group.

It, however, says business has remained resilient as the Group has continued to focus on the safety of its guests and associates to improve the guest experience and service delivery.’’

 ‘’The board is confident that business will return to normal once the Covid -19 is contained through effective administration of vaccines which has commenced,’’ it says.

Malawi needs to repackage tourism products for global competitiveness – Minister
March 19, 2021 / Bester Kayaye

Malawi Minister of Tourism and Culture Michael Usi says strategic packaging and marketing of local tourism products and services is necessary to revamp the tourism industry which has been seriously affected by the novel coronavirus (covid-19) pandemic.

During an interactive session with industry players on the base of Malawi’s highest mountain, Mulanje Mountain, famed for its tall-standing Sapitwa peak, cider trees, “spirit” infested forests and its garden-of-Eden beauty, the Minister challenged tourism business captains to be innovative, remain optimistic and to leverage on the pandemic as well as to plan ahead when the pandemic is gone.

“Let us start strategizing on how best to sell Malawi and its natural and cultural heritage. How can we package Mulanje Mountain, Lake Malawi, Nyika and Zomba mountains as well as antiquities, music and dance even our hospitality services?” he challenged the operators

He urged the tourism players to be focused and explore innovative ideas that will revitalize their businesses once the Covid-19 restrictions that have crippled the industry are lifted.

“Indeed tourism sector is among the key sectors that have seen the worst of covid-19 impact and as government relevant cushioning strategies such as soft loans for both small and medium enterprises and soon these loans shall soon be dispersed.”

Chairperson of Tourism Association of Mt. Mulanje, Nancy Chinyanya Longwe, hailed the minister for giving them hope amidst pandemic saying a good number of tourism players have closed their operations due to unfavourable business environment.

Hiking adventures top AwC tourism agenda for Malawi
January 13, 2021 / Bester Kayaye

Adventures with Colby (AwC) a local tourism-sector excursion firm specialized in promoting hiking, says tourism is an integral ingredient in uplifting Malawi’s economic status.

AwC founder and Director Colby Mughogho tells Mining and Trade Review that by attracting tourists from all over the world to visit different places in Malawi, the company contributes to generating revenue and boosting the country’s foreign exchange cover.

This year, AwC has lined up a number of activities including 4-peaks-challenge where participants are expected to conquer Michiru Mountain, Ndirande Mountain, Nthawila and Soche Hills in the commercial city of Blantyre.

“Anyone is welcome to join us on any of the mountains or better still on all of them,” he says.

Following his passion for adventure and tourism, which saw him engage in a 13-year-old career in wild camping, trekking, hiking and off-road cycling, Colby Mughogho founded Adventures with Colby in 2017.

Through the adventures, the firm has also been boarding on numerous life changing community projects such as the 2 wheels 2 schools project carried out in 2020 and many other programs under the Hike with Heart, which he also founded.

“The 2 wheels 2 schools project focuses on getting back less privileged secondary students back to school by assisting them with school fees, bags, bicycles for those who walk long distance to school as well as bicycle spare parts,” he explains.

Mughogho, however, laments that the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic has negatively impacted on their projects. He observes that some international clients continue to fail to travel to Malawi due to travel restrictions because of the pandemic.

“Covid-19 has negatively affected the tourism industry as a whole and our firm has not been spared. We are experiencing less clientele as some of our international clients have moved back to their homes hence we have started promoting local tourism,” he says.

In 2021, AwC plans to take its escapades to the northern region of Malawi having noted that the region has not experienced adequate tourism interventions and investments.

“People should expect great adventure trips up the northern region this year,” he says.

Malawi Govt. roping in private investment in airport project
December 11, 2020 / Noel Mkwaila

The Ministry of Transport and Public Works has committed to work hand in hand with investors on the construction of an international airport in the lakeshore district of Mangochi in a public private partnership (PPP) arrangement.

Andrew Nthiko, the spokesperson for the ministry, says government is prioritizing the project because it recognizes the impact of a lakeshore airport on the country’s tourism.

“As government, we are very committed to help the investors since the proposed project is crucial not only to Malawi but also to the region,” Nthiko said explaining that among others, government will guide the investors on the best construction site, standards and designation of types of planes to land or leave the airport.

As the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) comes into effect on January 1, 2021, the airport is expected to be useful in the transfer of people, goods and services across the continent and especially among Southern Africa Development Community (SADC0 member states.

Meanwhile, an interested investor and developer, Cape Maclear Holdings, has asked government to fast track the PPP tender process so that the project starts.

Malawi has two international airports, Kamuzu in Lilongwe and Chileka in Blantyre.

Government also plans to construct an international airport in Mzuzu.

Deforestation weighs on Mulanje Mountain conservation, tourism efforts
November 27, 2020 / Noel Mkwaila

Forestry conservation on Malawi’s highest mountain massif, Mulanje Mountain, faces huge challenges from massive encroachment, plundering and illegal trafficking, says Mulanje Mountain Conservation Trust (MMCT), a conservation crusader.

MMCT says encroachment and deforestation, triggered by overpopulation and increased demands for forest products for domestic use is fast diminishing the mountains’ vegetation and cover.

Charcoal burning, illicit logging and transfer of timber as well as the highly protected cider trees and other forest products by community members are some of the major activities that have negatively affected natural resources conservation on Mulanje Mountain.

The Trust’s Programme Officer Kondwani Chamwala says the progress being made by MMCT constantly encounter frustrations from encroachers and illegal loggers.

“Encroachment and destructive bushfires suppresses growth of forest plants,” he say.

Chamwala, however, points out that his organisation is not relenting on exploring awareness campaigns through community outreach programs using drama and other interactive approaches to educate the masses on conserving the mountain’s natural resources.

Meanwhile, the Trust says it has plans already in place to preserve the mountain’s greenery, especially now that the rainy season has arrived.

Chamwala says for the past three rainy seasons, the Trust has been promoting the planting of the endangered Mulanje Cider, which has earned itself an accolade as the National Tree.

MMCT is also planting other tree species on the mountain to provide community members with alternative benefits away from the endangered species and immature plants.

Mulanje Mountain, Malawi’s largest and Africa’s third highest, is one of the country’s biggest tourist attractions.

Chakwera pledges to resuscitate tourism sector
October 23, 2020 / Bester Kayaye

Malawi’s President Lazarus Chakwera says his administration is committed to resuscitate the tourism sector currently on death bed due to the impact of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

Chakwera said this when he officially  launched the Sogecoa Golden Peacock Hotel in Blantyre which has over 160 rooms, two restaurants, a shopping mall, a casino and conference rooms.

Sogecoa has invested an estimated K44 billion in the facility which covers an area of 1.6 hectares, with a total floor area of 22,000 square meters.

Chakwera said his administration will endeavor as much as possible to create an enabling environment for the tourism sector which has a strategic role to play in poverty eradication.

He said: “The facility will help in promoting local tourism industry, which is a critical driver of economy in the new Malawi which is currently taking its course.”

“My administration is fully committed in revamping the sector as it is resurrecting from shocks of Covid-19 pandemic, through fiscal stimulus packages.”

He explained that his administration will administer investment incentives packages that are comprehensive and accessible to both local and foreign investors to facilitate growth of the industry.

“We cannot run away from the fact that this sector caters for others such as Agriculture, Technology and Finance hence it is vital that we take good care of it for our own economic recovery and advancements,” he said.

He advised the Ministry of Tourism to conduct feasibility studies that will see development of new tourist cities in Mangochi, Salima, Karonga and Nkhatabay.

Minister of Tourism and Culture Michael Usi described the sector as an integral pillar for Malawi’s development as it offers 6.3% employment opportunities at present and it also contributes 6.7% to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP)

“Tourism is catalyst to unearth business opportunities for other sectors such as Agriculture. However due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a lot of jobs have been lost but as the pandemic situation is improving, the sector will also be revived”.

MD for the hotel group Mike Xhang said the launch of the facility is a milestone to local tourism business and job creation as over 1 thousand jobs were secured during construction works alone.

“We are in the process of developing Africa’s tourism sector, and this is one of the finest hotels in Malawi. This is the 16th hotel we have so far built in Africa with some in Madagascar, Mozambique and Zambia.”

Xhang said as Sogecoa they are committed to come up with creative and innovative solutions for developing economies.

Deputy Ambassador of Peoples Republic of China to Malawi Wang Shung Shen lauded the investment describing it as one of the major projects that Chinese investors have executed in Malawi in the recent years.

Shen said China is determined to do more in developing the Malawi economy owing to the mutual relationship existing between the two countries.

“As we are yearning for better bilateral trade, I believe more Chinese investors will come to Malawi to explore various sectors such as Agriculture and Technology to invest in.”

Malawi tourism sector loses MK40-billion due to Covid-19
September 24, 2020 / Wahard Betha

The Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Wildlife says the country has lost over MK40-billion in revenue and 35, 000 Malawians have lost their jobs due to the outbreak of the global coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic in the first half of the year 2020.

Speaking in an exclusive interview, Public Relations Officer in the Department of Tourism Sarah Leah Njanji lamented that Covid-19 has affected business opportunities due to cancellation of bookings and travel restrictions which led to a sudden drop in consumer demand of hospitality services.

Njanji said the fall in consumer demand led to an unprecedented fall in international tourism numbers that culminated into revenue decline and loss of jobs.

She said: “The revenue collected in National Parks and Game Reserves has also reduced as a result of reduced patronage.”

“Protection of iconic species and other conservation initiatives are under threat due to loss of livelihoods for communities living close to protected areas.”

“The arts and crafts subsector has also lost business opportunities as they have not been able to sell curios and also the number of people visiting monuments has reduced posing a risk towards conserving and preserving of cultural heritage.”

Meanwhile, the country is in a national tourism month which falls in September every year as designated by the government following the United Nations World Tourism Organization’s (UNWTO) declaration of September 27th as Tourism Day.

UNWTO designated the day on the expense of raising awareness on the role of tourism within the international community and to demonstrate how it affects social, cultural, political and economic values worldwide.

Together with UNWTO, Malawi is celebrating this year’s Tourism Day under the theme of ‘Tourism and Rural development.’

In her remarks on the commemoration, Njanji disclosed that the country will hold no public celebrations for the national tourism month in respect of covid-19 pandemic restrictions.

She said instead, the Government will use all sorts of media platforms to disseminate vital information, and that the Department will be available for tourism related requests.

Njanji said: “Through various forms of media, the Department of Tourism in the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Wildlife has been able to disseminate information about the theme, linking it with the unprecedented time that we are in and also looking at how domestic tourism can be used to spur recovery from the effects that Covid-19 has had to the industry.”

She said though the pandemic has made the year 2020 challenging one to the sector, the outbreak has also offered the Department an opportunity to consider implementing strategies that will ensure a more resilient, more inclusive and more sustainable tourism sector.

Early September, Minister responsible for Finance and Economic Planning Felix Mlusu presented the 2020/2021 fiscal financial budget where he allocated K58.7 billion in the sectors of energy, natural resources, tourism, environment and forestry.

Responding to the development, Njanji hailed the proposed budget saying the allocation is enough to revamp the sector through carrying out budgeted items.

Njanji said the allocation will be redirected toward: increasing domestic tourism promotion with an overall aim of increasing the number of people travelling within the country; trainings and capacity building for enforcement officers in protected areas to help combat wildlife crime; training communities in problem animal control; promotion of culture for tourism purposes; and capacitating arts stakeholders with trainings.

The pandemic also led to the cancellation of this year’s Takulandirani Malawi International Tourism Expo (MITE), a platform that the nation uses to market the country’s tourism products and services. 

The cancellation affected the sector whereas it failed to host buyers and other exhibitors, disrupting market network opportunity between the local operators and international buyers.