Tourism in Malawi
Malawi is one of the many small countries in the African continent, situated in the south east, surrounded by Zambia, Tanzania and Mozambique - Tourism in Malawi introduction. 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.
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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. 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 he 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 the issues that have affected the development of tourism in making Tourism a major contribution and involvement around the global. Tourism development From the recent events, contributing to help the growth of tourism in Malawi, the government have been working closely with private sector to strategically make tourism products more diverse in comparison to its competitors. A first step in this has seen an investment into the construction and rehabilitation of roads and key destinations of the country.
Regarding the key destinations many have these have proven tourism potential but still seem to undeveloped for this the government aim to put foreign western management programmes schemes will be out into place to help infrastructure development. Whilst these key destinations of Malawi are under transformation more investment will be plummeted into transport and tourist accommodation to help in conjunction with developing tourist areas. The Malawian Government published six key benefits of priority in a previous Report in 2008.
It stated that the people in Malawi will gain from particular areas continuing to focus on the countries potential and future development including the growth of Agriculture, Food and Security. The improvement of water development, transport infrastructure development and energy generation supply are some of the things which are positive elements towards the Tourism sector and tourists visiting the destination; Furthermore the integrated rural development, prevention and management of nutrition disorders and last and more most reducing HIV and AIDS population through awareness, education and medical services.
Middleton (1998, pp6) states “Travel and Tourism also carries the potential to make major positive contributions to the physical, culture and social environments of visited destinations. ” This will be looked at in more depth based on the Malawi’s current status. Economy The economic prospects in Malawi are mixed as previously mentioned earlier in the past, the country has relied too heavily on agriculture for economic development but Tourism has gradually become one of the country’s integral industries.
The tourism industry now has a greater impact on the economy hence this would therefore create numerous employment opportunities. Recently statistics have shown that there was an increase from tourism contributing into the overall GDP from 1. 8 percent to 8. 0 percent by 2011 (WTTC, 2012). The tables previously shown, the growth of Tourism significantly contributes a massive amount in the Malawi economy, serving an important source of foreign currency, the tradable products and goods, also recuperating to the quality of lives of residents in Malawi.
The affect to this would be involving Malawians who are unemployed which reduces the rate of poverty and helping them to learn more about the tourism industry through training. However, given the relatively positive regional dynamics, as well as the gradual emergence of non-traditional industries such as mining, telecommunications and tourism expansion, the Government have anticipated that the economy will grow by an average of 5. 5 percent per annum in the tourism industry. Employment The total contribution of Travel & Tourism to employment has shown to have been no less that 40 percent to Malawi’s overall employment.
The industries sectors of different organisations give job opportunities of involvement to locals and Malawians residents to make the Tourism sector more appealing from Attractions and Culture aspects. It is stated that Tourism jobs indirectly supported by the industry is forecast to rise by 2. 8% pa from 212,000 jobs (6. 9% of total employment in 2011) to 280,000 jobs (6. 8%) by 2021, shown in the table below (WTTC, 2011). Attractions The southern part of Africa draws tourists for their individuality as a country therefore Malawi firmly emphasises on ‘the natural wonders on Lake Malawi and the Nambi Desert. It is not usually seen as a tourist branded area but has promotional efforts to of international tourism market of mass-packages (Saarinen, et al, 2009). Malawi’s existing Tourism Industry products are based on both natural and cultural aspects; primarily the most popular attraction is the Lake Malawi known as the third largest lake in Africa. The wildlife includes numerous National Parks, wildlife reserves, forest reserves, mountains and spectacular scenery. Culture, Heritage and Tradition is a large aspect of visitors’ Tourism experience.
The eco-cultural tourist centre also serve as a base for providing tourists with a range of unforgettable experiences. Malawi as a tourism destination has a variety is interests, attractions and activities to do. It may simply be just relaxing, with a brisk day walk and over-night treks to enjoy the diverse wildlife of birds, plants and insects or a short eventful trip to sites of archaeological interests (iron age) on the Mountain, using one or more of the Forestry Dept’s existing huts. A common visit to the nearby tea plantations could be an option to be able to taste your own tea from scratch.
And excursion to a range of cultural and natural history interest may include the Blantyre Museum, the Zomba Botanical Gardens and the famous craft centre at Mua Mission. From its rehabilitated target of natural attractions and demand in Eco-Tourism globally, it is considered to be a significant image attracting many foreign visitors. Eco-Tourism is “a form of specialised nature tourism that emphasises small-scale operations of tours to natural areas and may include visits to places of traditional or cultural interest. Interest is placed on environmentally sensitive development and visitor use” (National Tourism Policy).
Malawi national parks, game reserves, and wildlife are the current focused areas for promoting the destination, drawing the eco-tourist market on the strength of its importance for people who want something different. The eco-tourism sector could be one of the major opportunities benefiting Malawi economically and environmentally through the protection and preserving areas for tourism resources and future development engaging international visitor market. Environment Malawi has already identified potential sustainability to conserve unique and remarkable areas for tourism significantly working to contribute towards the countries development.
From the Eco-Tourism projects and areas of development, that is already seen to be a major influence to reducing environmental impacts from the Tourism industry. The many areas that have been earmarked for high quality eco-tourism projects which offer potential investors a lot of opportunities, encouraging investment through the Government who has established policies that need to be followed. The government have thought of a monitoring system for tourist trends and services in Malawi, which will help to identify any key factors influencing visitors, researching the see if they have any gaps for development of improvement.
In addition to a Tourism zone system, it will separate all areas with tourism potential along the lakes in Malawi and enforce development in the towns and residential areas that will benefit the community. They have enforced regulatory framework for standards of quality of tourism development by creating clear laws and regulation of the land access for tourism development and develop guidelines for investment for investors of tourism projects which potential investors can develop with the full support of the Malawi Government.
Recent Strategic Tourism Development Plan have been identified following areas for eco-tourism development in Malawi. The Govenement and other organisations have come up with developing the Likhubula Falls as part of a Eco-Tourism project using the opportunity of existing construction of 25 eco-tourism accommodation units at Dziwe Lankhalamba Pool, at an elevation of 1,000 metres on the western slopes of Mulanje Mountain. The Manchewe Falls is a historic Livingstone Mission in northern Malawi which needs investment to construct a two storey eco- lodge with fifteen double rooms.
These plans will result in the employment of local villagers in the lodge itself but in addition will create further demand for guides, porters and possibly forestry department personnel. This will also improve in visitor numbers attracted by the lodge resort area which will also increase levels of demand for food, fruits/vegetables from local small holders/farmers and provide an expanded market for local craftsmen and curio sellers therefore causing a knock-on effect. Transport
Malawi has not had much development in terms of transport development over the past decade, even though Transport is essential to tourism, travelling to and within the destination. It is also seen as an attractive element of a holiday for tourists (Howie, 2003). Malawi has got two international airports; one based in the capital, Lilongwe and the in Blantyre which is also a national airport hub for outbound and inbound Tourism. However there are other small airports that operator within the African continent.
A Malawi lies within other larger neighbouring countries of worldwide connecting hubs of Africa, it has connecting services from Johannesburg (South Africa), Nairobi (Kenya) and Harare (Zimbabwe) which are only 2 and a half hour flight times away. There are daily flights to and from Malawi from these two hubs. The Malawian Airline is seen to face challenges in operating a sustainable route out of the country based on the countries current issue with fuel availability and prices. The lack of service with the airline has made a bad reputation on domestic, inbound and outbound travellers.
On the other hand, the other airlines operating to and from Malawi are: British Airways and KLM that fly via Nairobi with Kenya Airways, Air Zimbabwe, Air Tanzania, South African Airways and Ethiopian Airlines. Tour operators and travel agents in Malawi offer tours to see its nature and wildlife. Some of the other services provided include safaris, boat trips and water activities like kayaking. Malawian Style and Central African Wilderness are examples of companies in Malawi that offer safari and adventure to the destination.
The products range from middle market small group, scheduled departures to highly exclusive honeymoons and beach and bush combos. There are also many different kinds of short breaks such as mountain trekking expeditions, biking, sailing and fishing. They are all offering a diverse range of quality options for a superb holiday experience, visiting and exploring the wilderness of Malawi’s finest game areas (Malawi Tourism). The state of Malawi’s transport infrastructure is characterized by the lack of development from the Government to improving the poor road network however accessibility is there but not valued to agriculture land.
The poor inadequate freight and rail capacity, not modernised, compared to other rail networks in Africa with competitive prices and quality to access making it difficult to travel domestically. Culture Malawian Culture is seen as a massive positive aspect even though it is not promoted as a mass market destination, it faces fierce tourism competition with other neighbouring countries. However, from previous tourists visiting Malawi, it has been thought to have the warmest and friendliest people in Africa and is ranked third in the world.
Community tourism and involvement of local communities will be promoted to ensure direct benefits to rural communities (National Tourism Policy). Through interaction with the incoming tourists, the surrounding communities will be able to learn some aspects of the tourists’ culture and ways of life brought from different parts of the world. The communities will also have the opportunity to share their culture through, for example, the presentation of traditional dances and songs, other performance and decorative arts to the tourists so they will able to see the true tradition of Malawi. Visits to cultural tourism sites, be it in form of tangible culture like art, monuments and food, intangible culture like music and traditions do not only provide tourists with unique experiences but also provide an opportunity for both hosts and visitors to advance tolerance, respect and mutual understanding and appreciation of one another,” (Charles Mkula, 2011). Poverty Tourism is an increasingly strong contributor to reduce poverty; it is used in developing countries where Eco-tourism and Sustainable tourism is a position on a goal (Holden, 2007).
The estimated population of Malawi was recorded in 2010 of 15. 5 million, The Malawi MDG Report 2009 notes that poverty declined from 54% in 1990, to 39% in 2009. Statistics show the Development Index, ranking 153 out of 169 countries in 2010. This drop is due to the population’s impoverishment, which is constituted by many factors, including: insufficient nutrition, poor access to medical treatment, low income, insufficient school education, spread of HIV/AIDS, government economic restrictions. In Malawi poverty is rampant and illiteracy remains wide spread especially in communities around tourist destinations.
The tourism sector in the socio-economic development of the country, the sexual and reproductive health concerns of the people working in the tourism industry as well as the tourists themselves have not been addressed in a comprehensive manner. “Poverty is also common among female and child headed households. Since most farming households rely on rain fed production, any fall in agricultural output due to adverse weather easily pushes farmers into poverty” (Malawi Interim Strategy, 2011). Malawi’s Human Development Index Source: (http://hdrstats. undp. org/en/countries/profiles/MWI. tml) This table shows the growth within the different sectors relating to the Malawi Human development index (HDI). From the 1980’s the main focus on life expectancy, education and HDI increased, whereby year 2000, it had almost tripled. This is a significant development for the country especially the Education sector. Education “Education and training are key factors in sustainable tourism development, providing people at all levels of ability with the relevant skills to assume active responsibility aimed at improving employment conditions” (UNWTO 2010).
Malawi’s level of education has improved over the years through varies government and private sector programmes, giving equal opportunity to strengthen the communities knowledge and capability to do skilful jobs that would help the whole nation. The Malawi School improvement Programme link Community Development will be supported to build on the existing programme to help local education staff to train and support teachers improving performance in school management and governance and in teaching and learning methodologies.
This project is aimed at locals, tackling the issue of less income families’ opportunity for children to be educated from a young age. It is said to reach 92% by 2015 (Interim Country Strategy, 2011). Conclusion Currently Malawi has a good road network and major road upgrade programme that is underway. Furthermore remote locations can be reached via gravel roads with Ferry services including some cruises that operate on Lake Malawi. Malawi’s tourism is now a product based on both natural and cultural heritage.
Its prime attractions are the fresh water Lake Malawi which is the third largest lake in Africa, and wildlife which can be found in numerous national parks in addition with its wildlife reserves and forest reserves, which includes the mountains and scenery, but not to mention the friendly welcoming people. Tourism is has shown recent growth in the past decade but there is still room for more expansion. Current initiative programmes through the government private sectors have provided a great opportunity for development in the tourism industry.
But there is more opportunity to improve the coordination, regulation and planning of tourism in the country at a national level. Inevitably this new tourism regulations will provides an opportunity to regulate throughout the industry where therefore standards will be see which give improvement on quality. Recommendations Strategies to be pursued include: increasing capacity to service additional tourists in international competitive accommodations; improving transportation links to tourism destinations; increasing attractiveness of national parks for tourism and eco-tourism and improving tourism marketing regionally and internationally.
Tourism has increasingly become a profitable and large economic sector in Africa. Tourism focusing on Agriculture and Eco-Tourism can generate a considerable amount towards the economy including foreign exchange earnings, employment and contributes to the balance of payments for many countries in Africa. Accordingly, tourism is prioritized in the development agendas of many African nations. The significance of tourism has gained increased academic attention, although during the past decade Africa has witnessed the growth of research on tourism.
It has seen to establish Malawi as its potential tourist destination its Marketing scheme should become part of the governments’ budget not only to advertise domestically in the African continent but to able to reach countries worldwide. This pre-planned government budget should also give more financial help to the HIV/AIDS prevention campaign which is already up and running in the country. Seeing a decrease in its current death tolls of this disease, tourist will be able to focus on the more attractive side of Malawi while also giving the country a better image.
With the current structuring of roads leading to key areas, Malawi can now focus on building up resorts and hotels not only in the city area but also in built up residential areas where tourist will be able to see Malawi at its heart and discover it more in depth. Malawi also needs to vary on destinations to western world destination as currently long haul flights to Europe and America are via other African countries making journeys long and tedious. To improve on the forefront of tourism it is important that Malawi should focus education and training from a very young age and also with the aid of ole allocation where training can be specific for different industries and for this instance training in tourism or having knowledge through geography or marketing. Malawi also need to vast improvement on its poverty situation. One way to help is redistribution of wealth and to trough the increase of wages of low income labour.
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