By Lydia Maganga
Blantyre, October 23, Mana: State President Dr. Lazarus Chakwera says the tourism sector has great potential to contribute to the social and economic growth of the country.
Chakwera made the sentiments on Friday in Blantyre when he officially opened the Sogecoa Golden Peacock Hotel.
He said the tourism industry is one of the key priorities in his Tonse Alliance-led Government considering that it has potential to drive the country’s economy.
“The Tonse Government philosophy is to see that the economy grows and that the country develops.
“It is for that reason that we are committed to revitalize the tourism industry with the resources available within,” he said.
Chakwera said the prioritization of the tourism sector is part of the creation of one million jobs as it will boost businesses and create new jobs in the process.
“The one million jobs Dr. Saulos Chilima and I promised are not jobs in the future but jobs in the making.
“We want to establish businesses that will employ the youth and businesses that will grow the country’s economy,” he said.
He said his administration has outlined plans that would improve the tourism sector which include development of airport infrastructure to international standards in order to make the country’s tourism competitive.
Chakwera added that potential investors have already started showing interest in the tourism sector, citing the US$10 million (over MK7.55 billion) donation from the African Development Bank to help revive the industry in Malawi.
The President then thanked management of Sogecoa for building a multi-million dollar hotel, which he said, will improve the face of Blantyre City and increase the volume of tourism.
However, Chakwera cautioned investors in the tourism sector against importing labour when the country has potentially qualified people who can do the same work at the hotel.
“Let me give a stern warning to you owners, we know this is your hotel, but I urge you to hire Malawians as well.
“No one should imagine that we will tolerate it here that you even give menial jobs to foreigners because it does not happen anywhere in the world,” he said.
The First citizen also asked management of Sogecoa to consider building hotels in the Northern Region and along the lakeshore like in Mangochi and Salima to further boost tourism.
He, therefore, urged the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Wildlife, to create conducive environment for investors in the sector.
Earlier, the minister’s portfolio, Michael Usi, said the tourism sector contributes about six per cent to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Usi further said the sector has the capacity to create businesses and jobs, adding that it is the catalyst to unlocking economic activities in agriculture, health and sports among others.
The minister, however, expressed concern over the loss of 35,000 jobs due to Coronavirus as a result of travel restrictions imposed by various countries across the world. He said government remains expectant that as the disease ends, the sector will rise again.
Deputy Chinese Ambassador to Malawi, Wang Xiusheng pledged continued support to economic growth of the country.
He expressed hope that the bilateral relationship between the two countries would grow from strength to strength and that the new hotel could bring new wealth to Malawi.
Managing Director of Sogecoa Golden Peacock Hotel, Mike Zhang said the hotel will give influence to the Malawian tourism industry and beyond. He thanked government for creating an enabling environment for the project to flourish.
The Project has run for 29 months at the value of US$60 million [an equivalent of K45 billion].