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Transcript of What a tourist expect - The Nation Online Sup1.pdf · PDF file Pensacola Spur Steak...

  • Is govt serious in promoting tourism?— P12 Tourism, water: Drivers of Malawi’s economy — P14


    What a tourist expect

  • Special pullout the nation 27 September 2013

    Malawi’s sluggish tourism industry





    Palm Valley5.

    Kara O Mula6.

    Likhubula Lodge7.

    Hotel Masongola8.


    Mikoma Beach10.

    Ilala Crest Lodge11.

    Kalikuti Hotel12.

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    these are the hot institutions that are raising the bar in the tourism and water sector:


    ALICK NYASULU Malawian econoMist based in australia

    protecting our common future

    For many years, tourism has been touted as a potential replacement to dwindling tobacco revenues, but it remains very uncompetitive in the southern Africa region. It is a money spinner in Kenya, South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Zambia yet these countries do not necessary offer unique services that distract visitors to the Warm Heart of Africa.

    National planning strategies such as the Vision 2020, Malawi Economic Growth Strategy including its successor, the Malawi Growth and Economic Strategy (MDGS) and the Economic Recovery Plan recognise tourism as a potential growth industry. However, the industry remains

    fragmented and its growth is sluggish and many factors are at play.

    Naturally, it is often quite easy to point fingers at government because it is some ambiguous institution. There are, however, many other players in the industry and the role of government is simply to provide an enabling environment for entrepreneurs to invest in the industry. At the same-time, it is also imperative to recognise that tourists are at the core of the industry.

    Tourists are not in the country for charities but seek value for money, and someone has to do a good job to attract them or else there are many alternatives available in other countries.

    One aspect that I find irritating is how tourism is marketed. I know that that government is now collecting a tourism levy from tour operators in whatever form it comes. It is unclear how these funds are used other than the perennial bus rides organised by the tourism ministry for journalists across the country.

    Other countries such as South Africa and Kenya have taken their tourism marketing, or call it advertising, to international channels such CNN and BBC to put them on the map. I do not think a mere Ministry of Tourism website that has nothing other than a strategic plan of a ministry is enough to woo a potential visitor. I would consider it a

    high grade joke in marketing, but such is the reality. It is time Malawi established a tourism authority and removed such functions from the ministry altogether and do away with usual Capital Hill bureaucracy in such a high-paced industry.

    Any traveller or visitor will naturally spend money as they go to any destination. Usually, the cost aspect will influence the decision to travel to a particular place. Malawi remains at a huge disadvantage within the Sadc region and we cannot blame government entirely, but closely look at businesses involved in the tourism industry.

    Most businesses appear

    A white elephant? A tourist lodge lies desolate at Nyika National Park

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  • Special pullout the nation 27 September 20132 3

    What a discerning tourist expects Special eSSay protecting our common future

    to misunderstand the very notion of a tourist. A tourist is not necessarily someone that has robbed a bank or won a lottery in millions of dollars. It is therefore foolhardy to expect potential visitors to our country to pay over US$150 for renting a 4x4 or US$200 for a hotel room when countries around us offer less than half for similar services. The average tourist is not a rich person, and somehow, it is enshrined in our thinking that all foreigners can be charged ridiculous prices for a simple reason of being “alien” to the country.

    Factor in horrible customer services for such expensive prices, it simply adds to the uncompetitive nature of the industry when compared to other countries in the region. It appears most tour operators are obsessed with get-rich- quick business philosophies and paint all tourists as extravagant spenders, yet the average tourist takes years to save for a dream adventure. Such a mentality makes Malawi an expensive destination and all the blame goes to government for not supporting local industries.

    Recently, the Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) put up notices regarding the national switch centre that will connect all banks to ease payments. The national switch centre will see all banks connected to international payments systems such as visa and master card from mid next year. One problem that still continues to hinder the growth of tourism is the unwillingness by businesses involved in tourism to embrace modern, secure and convenient means of payments or simply called plastic money.

    While the national switch centre will indeed connect banks, a culture of cash seems highly enshrined in how we transact business, and is not attractive to tourists from countries beyond. For example, National Bank of Malawi introduced its visa branded point of sale purchases to the convenience of businesses and their clients. It is appalling that most businesses have not embraced the idea. You will sometimes find business using excuses of a bad network to force a customer to pay cash. It is simply a turn-off if you

    consider the risks of tourists carrying heaps of a devalued Malawi kwacha to pay for services.

    The same can be said of the Malswitch facilities. As RBM gets the national switch centre to a full functional facility, businesses that trade transparently and fairly, particularly in the tourism industry can take full advantage to accept all major credit cards as a way of easily attracting foreign tourists. It is not fashionable anymore to shift all blame on Capital Hill for the sluggish growth of the industry.

    In any business, innovation remains important, and tourism has a lot to offer as

    long as the product is well packaged and marketed. For many years, our version of tourism has been restricted to building resorts along the shores of Lake Malawi of varying standards, but often mediocre customer service.

    Most resorts along the shores have taken to offer very high prices, synonymous with city hotels whose sole survivors are business visitors or civil servants. Similarly, when government stops conferences at the lake, hotel owners have cried foul citing loss of business. This smacks of lack of innovation on the part of hotel owners whose business model is none other conferencing by public

    PAGE 2

    servants or some NGOs. It is time hotel owners

    became more innovative in designing products beyond conferencing or lodging and target a much wider audience. It is not enough to say come and stay on the shores of Lake Malawi if the tourist does know how to swim or fish.

    While we consider tourism as an alternative industry to replace dwindling tobacco revenues, it is important to realise that no tourist is compelled to visit this country. The onus really remains on us to offer very competitive but world class services to the discerning traveller set to explore our beautiful country. Malawi

    tourism does not operate in a vacuum, but rather in a very competitive East-Southern Africa market.

    There ought to be services that are properly packaged, convenient and affordable for the traveller. Some of the questions we need to answer include what tourists will see after lodging. It is not enough to build a hotel or a lodge and fail to get the visitors or persuade them to try various services through a network of operators that benefits a whole chain of players.

    There are lots of benefits in networking and partnerships as it enhances product innovation. No one can go it alone.

    Foreign tourists enjoy a boat ride on the Shire River PH

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  • Special pullout the nation 27 September 20134

    Yvonnie Sundu Staff Reporter

    The Big Five in tourism In the area of tourism in Malawi, there is what is termed the Big Five. These are Pensacola Spur Steak Ranches, Debonairs Pizza, Play Land, Manosalwa Food Industry and Chen One, all in Lilongwe.

    Spur Steak Ranches is the franchise restaurant under the Big Five. It is an eatery in town that boast of Burgers, Ribs, Chicken and Steak. You can enjoy every day at Spur through promotions that are:

    On Mondays “Buy one Burger and get another for free” On Wednesdays “Kids Eat Free”. “From Monday to Thursday we have Lunch Promotion for only K1 800 for a meal. There are more promotions on the way”, according to Managing Director Umair Hussain.

    Next to it at the City Mall is another franchise restaurant, Debonairs Pizza.

    “This is one of our key companies under these five having the best pizzas in town. Again, every Monday, when you buy one large Debonairs Pizza you get another for free,” he says.

    Manosalwa Food Industry

    A billboard in Lilongwe advertises Debonairs Pizza

    is famously known in for its crunchy sn