Tourism authorities in the Northern Region have threatened to close 42 facilities for falling below minimum standards.
According to regional tourism officer Michael Chigaga, officials from the Department of Tourism put the facilities in line for closure following rigorous inspections.
The department yesterday completed a regional assessment of standards aimed at ascertaining hotels, lodges, restaurants and other hospitality businesses that are fit to operate this year.
“So far, we have reached out to 304 businesses out of 390. A total of 207 units have been licensed to continue operating while 55 have been earmarked for re- inspection and 42 have been recommended for closure,” Chigaga said.
Inspectors in all regions embarked on the assignment last November.
The tourism sector contributes about 3.5 percent of the country’s GDP.
Chigaga asked all operators to adhere to guiding standards to avoid scaring away visitors and putting their businesses at risk of being closed.
He said the department and operators in the industry need to work hand in hand to achieve the common goal of boosting tourism in the country.
Despite describing the number of adherent businesses as impressive, the inspectors underscored the need for investors in the tourism sector to employ qualified workers who can serve clients with decency and communicate flawlessly.
“Operators need to employ workers who are conversant with the laws and regulations of the industry, said Chigaga.
To close the skills’ gap, President Peter Mutharika last year promised to increase the intake of public universities and Technical, Entrepreneurial, Vocational, Education and Training (Tevet) colleges to, among other programmes, train quality personnel for the tourism sector. n