Developing economies in Africa, including Malawi, could lose up to 60 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) due to the Covid-19 vaccines shortage, a new report has shown.
In its latest Covid-19 and tourism update, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad) observes that with Covid-19 vaccinations being more pronounced in some countries than others, tourism losses will be worsened in the countries where the vaccinations are yet to roll out, or are in short supply.
In a statement accompanying the report, Unctad acting secretary general Isabelle Durant said there is need for a global vaccination effort that will protect workers, mitigate adverse social effects and make strategic decisions regarding tourism, taking potential structural changes into account.
Currently, Malawi, which targets to vaccinate 11 million, which is 60 percent of its population, is running low on the vaccine, and banking on the yet-to-be delivered 900 000 doses from the Covax Facility—a multi-donor initiative that mobilised the vaccines for poor countries.
Nonetheless, delivery for the initial 512 000 jabs, which was due in May has been delayed due to high demand for the vaccine and India’s decision to reduce exports for the same to cater for its domestic needs.
In an interview on Wednesday, University of Malawi economics professor Ben Kaluwa said the absence of the vaccine in the country would have economic implications.
“The limited availability of the Covid-19 vaccine is a threat not only to the tourism sector, but the economy at large as it deters confidence in international visitors into the country,” said Kaluwa.
Malawi Tourism Council chairperson Johns Malili earlier indicated that tourism continues to be affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and this year growth in the sector will be subdued.
Meanwhile, data contained in the Malawi Government annual economic report has also indicated that unprecedented challenges associated with Covid-19 will negatively affect the performance of the tourism and hospitality industry across the globe.
The data shows that Malawi’s travel tourism contribution to the GDP declined by 50.2 percent and that the sector contributed 3.3 percent of GDP or 207 billion, down from 2019’s 6.7 percent or K416 billion.
He said in a recent interview: “The global economy, specifically the tourism sector, has suffered a greater loss in the year, as we continue to see a drop in international traffic.”
To promote tourism in the country, Minister of Finance Felix Mlusu announced in the 2021/22 budget statement that government has aligned the multiple entry visa charges with those in the neighbouring countries by reducing the charge from $150 (K117 000) to $80 (K62 000).
Mlusu also indicated that the single entry visa charge has been reduced from $75 (K58 650) to $50 (K39 000).