Malawi expects tourism boom

Malawi expects tourism boom

Malawi is attracting more and more international tourists, and the trend is expected to continue in 2024.

By Leon Louw, Director of Endorphin Expeditions 

After tobacco and tea, tourism is the third largest source of foreign exchange in this landlocked southern African country. Despite positive indicators that the number of international visitors to the country is on a steady increase year on year, the sector still performs below its true potential.

The country’s picturesque landscapes, top-class national parks, the tranquillity of Lake Malawi, and Malawi’s diverse and vibrant cultures provide the country with exceptional tourism assets few other African countries can compete with.

What constrains tourism growth?   

The factors that hamper tourism growth in Malawi, are all related to several other sectors. Chief among these are accessibility and the number of direct flights to the country’s two main cities, Lilongwe and Blantyre.

According to Malawi’s President Dr. Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera, government is addressing all the concerns and challenges.

“We are in the process of designing a Malawi Flight Plan for increased air access.

“At the same time, we recently concluded three Bilateral Air Service Agreements with Mozambique, Uganda, and Kuwait to introduce direct flights into Malawi, while talks with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Mauritius, and Nigeria to do the same are in progress,” says President Chakwera.

In February, President Chakwera’s administration gazetted the visa waiver program that he first announced in 2023. The visa waiver program exempts travellers from 79 countries and territories from paying visa fees.

“I expect our Ministry of Foreign Affairs to use this waiver to begin negotiating with those countries and territories for more friendly visa terms for Malawians traveling there as a way of increasing our access to international markets for wealth creation as well,” says President Chakwera.

Developing infrastructure  

Another key ingredient for wealth creation through tourism is the development of the needed infrastructure and services.

“It is in pursuit of this goal that we have completed the acquisition of 52.7 hectares of beach land in T/A Maganga, Salima, for the Salima Integrated Hotel and Resort, and we have already invited private sector players to invest in the development of facilities and services through a Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement,” says President Chakwera.

“We have also continued to engage with 26 tourism enterprises and hospitality industry players to offer incentives for the development of special packages for Malawians to boost local tourism as part of efforts to implement the Domestic Tourism Marketing Strategy.

“As a result of all these efforts, international arrivals have increased by about 64% from 2021, reaching approximately 708,000 in 2022, and we expect a tourism boom following the interventions we have put in place more recently.

“But as we prepare for that boom, we must understand that tourism involves every citizen as a marketer for the country, and so political and community leaders have a responsibility to lead by example in how they speak about Malawi to outsiders or on international platforms,” says President Chakwera.

We visited Lilongwe, Salima and Cape Maclear in 2023. This year we will traverse the country from south to north on our way to Tanzania.

Last year we did some research in Senga Bay as part of the trip. This is Senga Bay beach at sunset:

Endorphin Expeditions, a travel consultancy, tour planning and tour operator, will undertake its first expedition to Malawi in July 2025. Endorphin Expeditions does overland group tours across southern, central, and east Africa. For more information head to their website:   https://endorphinexpeditions.co.za/

Malawi expects tourism boom
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