Malawi Tourism is currently under tight threat over COVID-19 as reports say over 35,000 people have lost their jobs due to closure of some hospitality businesses.
On April 7, Malawi registered three more cases of Coronavirus bringing the total number of confirmed cases to eight, with one death.
The presence of Coronavirus in the country has impacted so much on the tourism and hospitality industry leading to closure of some businesses premises to loss of employment.
Director for the Department of Tourism, Isaac Katopola Thursday said that the industry was arguably the hardest hit sector due the advent of the Coronavirus pandemic.
He said his office has received reports from the industry of both temporary and permanent closure of tourism and hospitality businesses and that employees in excess of 35,000 have been laid-off
The Director said the reason is that they cannot make money because almost all local and international bookings are cancelled, similarly with Conferences and meetings.
“The tourism private sector players have since engaged Government for bailout packages to avoid having more facilities closed and retain some of the employees in the sector.
“On prevention of Coronavirus, we have developed robust guidelines which we have circulated to the tourism and hospitality players,” Katopola said
Manager for Chikale Beach in Nkhata Bay, Josephine Imani said things are not well with COVID-19 and they have been forced to trim number of workers from 29 to only 10.
He said they had a series of bookings but they have all been cancelled due to the pandemic.
“We feel like just closing the business but we still have hoped that may be getting a few clients to sustain our business. We have sent home about 19 workers on unpaid holiday because we can no longer make money to meet their wages,” said Imani
Green Safaris, owners of Kaya Mawa lodges at Likoma Island, said they are expecting serious revenue loss in 2020.
One of the officers at Majizuwa lodges along Lake Malawi in the Northern region district of Karonga, Nation Nyasulu confirmed of closing his business and had already sent home 12 workers.
He said most of visitors at their site come from Western and European countries which have as well been hit hard by the pandemic.
According to 2018 Travel and Tourism Economic Impact Report, the direct contribution of Travel and Tourism to GDP in 2017 was 3.5 per cent and 7.7 per cent in 2019 and was expected to rise by 2.8 per cent and 4.7 per cent through 2028 respectively.
This refers to total value of goods and services and the sector’s economic activities generated by hotels, travels agents, airlines and other passenger transportation services.
In Monetary terms, the sector’s contribution to GDP translates to US$ 553 million (about K400 billion) annually.
The subdued growth has affected job creation, with employment remaining at 6.7 per cent of total employment at about 525,000 jobs.