Tourism is one of the most affected sectors by the current Covid-19 pandemic. Before the pandemic tourism was Malawi’s fourth main forex earner after tobacco, tea and sugar. Tourism and leisure service providers need to speak with one voice. The post Covid-19 era will demand changes in the way there operate, serve clients, cental government policy implementation, etc. Here are four measures that i believe would be help.
1. Value Added Tax & Tourism Levy: Malawi government must zero rate value added tax on all hospitality receipts and maintain the one percentage tourism levy. The tourism levy was introduced in the 2011/12 fiscal year during the zero deficit budget for the purposes of marketing Malawi Tourism abroad. It was only removed due to Covid-19 in March 2020 until September 2020 when it was resumed.
2. Lake Malawi Services: Opening up for competition currently only two ships sail on Lake Malawi. Many thanks to the Tonse Alliance government for disbanding Lake Malawi services limited. We are hoping it opens up to new players in the cruise industry and private yachts to attract higher net worth tourists into Malawi.
3. Open Skies Policy and Fifith Freedom: The fifth freedom allows an airline to carry revenue traffic between foreign countries as a part of services connecting the airline’s own country. It is the right to carry passengers from one’s own country to a second country, and from that country onward to a third country (and so on). Malawi and Tanzania should allow airlines to have fifth freedom between Dar es salaam and Lilongwe to increase competition in the aviation sector. Malawi should attract long haul flights from Europe and Asia.
4. Free Visa On Arrival For All Nationalities: As a measure to boost tourism all nationalites should be issued a free 10 days visa on arrival. The free visa policy should not apply to countries which are conflict zones have civil war and experiencing terrorism. Malawi’s security forces should be on high alert to continuously maintain the peace enjoyed by Malawians.
Malawi Airlines: Government must help the national carrier to procure and own planes. The current structure at the airline is not beneficial to the country. Malawi airlines needs to start long haul flights to London, Dubai, Doha, Mumbai, Beijing, etc as a way to reduce the cost of travelling into Malawi. Currently Malawi airlines leases its fleet from Ethiopian airlines, Pays a Contract management fee to Ethiopian airlines, dividends to Ethiopian airlines, etc. We need a proper public-private partnership that is beneficial to the country and discontinue the partnership with Ethiopian airlines.
Malawi has numerous attractions across her hotspots. A more robustic marketing strategy is needed to raise awareness of Malawi as a must visit tourism destination.