Another milestone for the islanders the recent handover of the Likoma aerodrome to Airport development limited ADL and turning it into an international airport is a timely and welcome initiative.
Currently Likoma airport is the third busiet airport in Malawi after kamuzu and Chileka international airports in Lilongwe and Blantyre respectively. Its main traffic are private charter planes flying tourist visiting the island. Although the international airport status will come at a cost and also now being under the management of ADL will now mean everyone departing from the airport will be entitled to pay departure fee/airport tax which was not the case before.
Now under the management of Airports Development Limited they are a new facilities and upgrades that will need to done. Among the upgrades and new developments that are expected
- Fencing the whole airport land.
- Lighting for night flights (currently only day flights can taxi at the airport)
- Expansion of the terminal building.
- Fuel storage facilities ( currently they are no fuel storage facilities aeroplanes come with they own extra fuel in jerrycans).
- Expansion of the current run (1250m) way or construct a new one (2500m) to accommodate larger planes.
- Firefighting services that is high volume hydrates or firefighter vans and high volume water storage facilities.
- Aircraft hanger and car park.
- Vip termanl and airport villas.
Not all airport facilities are needed as of now some of them can be done in the medium to long term.
My personal suggestion to attract foreign direct flights. The current airlines that land in Likoma need to partner with travel agency in other tourist locations like Zanzibar, Victoria falls, Pemba, Kilimanjaro so that they have one latinaery which includes a visit to Likoma. As one way of increasing traffic and they own business. Such an inviative will need to involve other government departments like Malawi tourism. Business in hospitality charge a 1% tourism levy that is used to fund marketing Malawi tourism part of it should be used to market Likoma tourism to increase traffic.
The other strategy is to declare Likoma island a special economic zone for tourism. To promote such initiative government has to offer some incentives for entrepreneurs to develop the island such as
- Creation of a special economic zone authority.
- 30 day visa free entry for all nationalities.
- Duty free importation of materials used for development purposes.
- Tax exemptions
- Flexible banking and monetary services.
- 100% foreign ownership.
Tourism can fully be a key driver for likoma island and the Malawi economy at large. Its upto the authorities in Likoma to press the central government to implement key project’s and policies to transform the island and uplift the lives of the islanders.