Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism says that pricing continues to affect the growth of domestic tourism in the country despite the growing appetite for the tourism services.
In an interview with Business News on Wednesday, director of tourism in the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Development Isaac Katopola said that a lot of Malawians are still complaining about prices for tourism services which has suppressed demand for their services.
The development comes at a time when government continues to delay the launch of the domestic tourism strategy which seeks to promote the travel of Malawians and those that are resident in Malawi to tourist areas as well as where services of tourism are being offered.
Among other things, the strategy seeks to encourage local tourism operators to offer special prices favourable to domestic tourists and encourage service providers to offer friendly packages to Malawians so that they can afford to patronise their service.
The strategy, which was initially supposed to be launched in January last year, is yet to be rolled out.
Currently, the tourism industry is facing a number of challenges to fully grow and contribute substantially to economic growth.
Katopola said that although the number of Malawians patronising areas of tourist attraction has been growing over the past 12 months, the issue of prices still has prevented the sector from attaining its full potential.
“Our assessment is that of late we have seen a growing number of Malawians patronising areas of tourism attraction especially during the festive season for example the lake and game reserves. This is encouraging and we are bound to see a lot more.
“It is part of the future of tourism in this country,” he said.
Katopola said that the ministry will soon be conducting a special survey to establish the actual number of local Malawians who patronise tourism destinations and establish their spending.
Katopola, however, said that the strategy will be launched before the end of the 2016/17 financial year.
In a separate interview, tourism expert Sam Botomani, who is also former executive director of the Malawi Tourism Council, said that apart from pricing, lack of infrastructure development has greatly affected the growth of the domestic tourism.
“While it is an open secret that our tourism destination areas are offering prices not affordable to an ordinally Malawian, lack of infrastructure development has also greatly affected the growth of the sector.
Some places have poor road network which only allows big cars and Malawians who have small cars cannot go their despite their willingness to do so,” he said.
Tourism is one of the key sectors of the economy. In 2015, the sector contributed 3.4 percent to the GDP, which is about about K105 billion.
Tourism is among nine priorities outlined in the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy II (MGDS II) expected to contribute sustainable economic growth and diversify the country’s foreign exchange earnings. n