A total of 300,000 people working in the tourism industry lost their jobs last year due the impact of the Covid pandemic, the Malawi Government Annual Economic Report has shown.
The report, released on Friday, further shows that the country lost K42 billion in revenue through cancellation of confirmed bookings. The report says, of the 300,000 jobs lost, 253,000 were direct jobs.
The report, which is prepared by the Treasury and is released alongside other budget documents, says the unprecedented challenges associated with Covid have been negatively affecting the performance of the tourism and hospitality industry across the globe.
It says travel restrictions that were introduced to contain the spread of the pandemic led to loss of tourist receipts due to falls in local and international tourism demand as well as travel plans, hotel stays and tourism-related events being cancelled.
According to United Nations World Trade Organisation, global tourism suffered its worst year on record in 2020, with international arrivals dropping by 74 percent when compared to 2019 figures and by 4 percent when compared with figures during the 2009 global economic crisis.
“The Covid pandemic has revealed the vulnerability of the tourism sector to unknown factors which can affect investment and operations in the sector. There is need: therefore, to focus more on controlling such factors to build and strengthen the resilience of the sector.
“Shocks in the tourism sector have the potential to drastically lead to loss of jobs and to close job creation opportunities. As such, there is need to develop mechanisms for cushioning such shocks in a manner that protects both employees and employers,” the report says.
It adds that collaboration, coordination and active participation in a global community and at national level involving government institutions, development partners and other players can assist to clear bottlenecks to tourism recovery from shocks and investment in tourism.
Speaking when he opened Segocoa Golden Peacock in Blantyre last October, President Lazarus Chakwera said Malawi can be turned into a tourism hub in the region and in turn support the country’s social-economic development.
Chakwera said government would introduce a wide range of tourism investment incentives over and above the current ones to make Malawi a more attractive tourism investment destination.
“The incentives will ensure that investment opportunities in tourism are both comprehensive and accessible to both local and international investors,” he said.