Tourism in Malawi

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Introduction
Malawi is one of the many small countries in the African continent, situated in the south east, surrounded by Zambia, Tanzania and Mozambique. The capital of Malawi is Lilongwe; other main notable towns are Blantyre, Zomba and Mzuzu. Malawi is governed by president DR Bingu Wa Mutharika, who has been in power since May 2004.

History of tourism in Malawi refers back to the early 1960s after all the colonisations and independence for the country. It was not run by anyone till Banda made himself president in 1966. The country made some improvement in the economy, by the 1980’s Malawi’s dream of becoming a tourist destination was successful. It saw many holiday makers that contributed more than 50% of total visitors however Malawi as a country didn’t see any of the income as Banda was the only rich one. This caused the citizens to protest for change. Muluzi became president in 1993 taking over but during this period the tourism industry had a lack of incentives specific to tourism due to the Government leaving tourism development to the private sector organisations but without creating a conductive environment for investment. Furthermore, it was noticed that critical constraint limited the number of direct long-haul flights from Europe and America to Malawi which made Malawi an expensive destination in Africa due to the lack of competitive air fares right till the millennium – 2000.

For development and demand for tourism in Malawi, it must first be noted that tourism has made a slow increase over the years. Foster and Shkaratan (2011, pp2) identified that “Over decades between 1997 and 2007, Malawi’s economy grew at an average annual rate of only 2.9 percent, placing it among the slower-growing nations on the continent.” This is due to the fact that Malawi government did not help to invest in the industry promoting Tourism and developing the countries existing assets. Harrison (2001, pp.7) supports the development of tourism in less developed countries. It states that “tourism can be seen as a form of modernization, transferring capital, technology, expertise and modern values from the West”.

Today, Malawi is now known to have a large Farming sector, involving 90% of the countries population. The main farming crops are cassava, maize and sorghum additionally producing Tea, Sugar, Tobacco, Cotton and Peanuts. These manufactured goods contribute to the countries economy which was estimated in 2009 the GDP of Malawi was $4.66 billion. The imports and exporting serving some of the main consuming countries like South Africa, China, India, Zimbabwe, Japan, U.S., U.K and Europe.

Consequently, Malawi realization of the country’s potential for tourism, the government has reformulated its tourism policy. It is now trying to market the country in order to attract more tourists and generate higher incomes from the previously untapped tourism market.

The government’s substantial efforts to deregulate the private sector and boost tourism in the country were enacted via measures to encourage both domestic and foreign investors to develop the overall tourism infrastructure in the country. This has significantly improved investment and development in major tourist sites through new tourism products such as community-based tourism, Agriculture tourism, Eco-tourism, conference tourism, and cultural tourism. Additionally promoting domestic tourism through community participation and improved treatment of local tourists by the hospitality industry and providing and maintaining tourism.

In the News Time Africa it was mentioned that “Malawi Government is highlighting its understanding of tourism and acting on it, increasing interest in this usually less popular experience is an important trend that will need to be developed more in Africa and Malawi in particular if we want tourists to visit and more importantly to return” (Charles Mkulu, 2011). This has proved that Malawi has been neglected and knows little about...
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