The President of the Republic of Malawi, Arthur Peter Mutharika, at the Corporate Council on Africa Business luncheon at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York in September 2014, unveiled his country’s investment opportunities to the world, declaring open her economy to foreign investors. Eco-tourism is the height of the investment opportunities given the country’s abundant and beautiful ecosystems.

The International Environ-metrics Society (TIES) defined Eco-tourism as “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains the well-being of the people, and involves interpretations and education.

Eco-tourism is an untapped investment opportunity available in Malawi.  However, the tourism industry currently accounts for about 5% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), but if properly developed, it promises to turn the country into one of the leading Eco-tourism destinations in Africa.

The Malawian scenic environment boasts of lakes, wildlife and mountains which are potential sources for eco-tourism development in the country that will facilitate the development of the country’s Eco-tourism potentials. The government is therefore, conserving and managing wildlife in both protected areas and natural habitats.

The tourism industry in Malawi presently faces a number of challenges such as, lack of Infrastructure, inadequate transportation system, inadequate hotels and poor service delivery. However, the government is determined to develop major economically viable eco-tourism facilities in partnership with foreign investors aimed at the transformation of the tourism industry in order to boost its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) contribution.

The new economic policies of the government are also geared towards encouraging investors into all sectors of the economy.

The Strategic Eco-tourism Development Plan have located and set aside the following areas for massive Ecotourism development:

INTEGRATED RESORT AT GOLDEN SANDS, CAPE MACLEAR

This proposed Resort is to be implemented under the Public Private Partnership scheme. It is located within the 94Km stretch of the Lake Malawi National park. At completion, it shall enhance the status and uniqueness of Lake Malawi National Park to a world heritage site and boost the guest experience for a repeat visit.

It shall comprise of a 100-room luxurious lodge with a time share units/villas at Golden Sands. There is another 150 room luxurious Hotel within Chembe Village with facilities such as conferencing, sporting complex, a champion golf course, quay, museum, underground aquarium, water sports, a luxury glass bottom boat, children’s playground/theme park, a partitioned 700 capacity hall facility, an ecotourism park within the protected area and the re-stocking of the depleted wildlife species for public viewing, learning and research.

INTEGRATED TOURISM FACILITY IN SALIMA

This Salima Resort is a 100% ownership project with the provision of land and other infrastructural services by the government. The resort shall comprise of a 200 room luxurious hotel, a partitioned 1,500 capacity Convention Centre, sporting complex, shopping / entertainment complex, golf course, underground aquarium, wildlife sanctuary, casino and a housing estate.

Salima Town is already a booming tourist location with the potential of becoming a Lakeside City with a stretch of prime beaches and proximity to the Capital City of Lilongwe. It has a major port on Lake Malawi at Chikopa and also the only link by Road, Rail and water systems. Chipoka is in close proximity to the major attractions of Liwonde National Park, Mua mission, Dedza Mountains, Lake Malawi National Park and NkhotaKota Wildlife Reserve.

There is however, a shortage of tourists’ accommodation in the locality with only one major hotel that is always fully booked. The development of other hotels here would be a welcome relieve for tourist, and enhance the growth and development of the locality.

INTEGRATED MOUNTAINOUS RESORT ON MOUNT MULANJE

The proposed Resort on Mount Mulanje is to be implemented under the Public, Private Partnership scheme.

Mount Mulanje in Malawi is the third highest mountain in Africa. However, this important tourist destination remains undiscovered because of the lack of essential infrastructural development to attract tourists to the area.

The Resort shall comprise of the development of a world-class tourism destination based on fantasy and adventure with a cluster of natural and man-made attractions, museums and other facilities to provide an enriching experience, recreation and entertainment to tourist. Such clusters would include a cable car, luge, sky-ride, Segway fun rides, health spa and wellness centre, museum, story-telling, eco-lodge(s), eco-adventure activities and a variety of quality restaurants. The nearby tea and coffee plantations shall add to the guest experience.

SPA AND WELLNESS RESORT IN NKHOTAKOTA

The memorable hot springs of Nkhotakota have continuously produced hot water from the ground. The proposed Spa and wellness resort at Nkhotakota shall be 100% privately owned. It will comprise of a 50-room eco-lodge designed in a traditional Malawian village style set to transform Nkhotakota into a preferred destination for both tourists traversing the Northern and Central lakeshore road and other tourists to Malawi. The spa shall consist of a peaceful sanctuary with baths, treatment therapies, salons, gym, mini-conference facility, library, boutique, eateries and private rooms with separate areas for pools and reflexology.

 MICHIRU NATURE SANCTUARY CONFERENCE FACILITY AND LODGE

The Michiru nature sanctuary conference facility and lodge would provide a unique conference facility within the City of Blantyre. It offers opportunity for guided tours, nature walks, game viewing, bird watching, and soft hiking for families.

The proposed sanctuary would comprise of 50 chalet rooms, scattered within the park at game viewing and scenic vantage points, a 500-seater conference facility, an open grass thatched restaurant and a natural stone paved swimming pool.

The proposed Sanctuary development shall be implemented under the Public, Private Partnership scheme using the Build Operate and Transfer (BOT) format.

DAVID LIVINGSTONE AND MALAWI SLAVE TRADE HERITAGE ROUTE MUSEUM IN NKHOTAKOTA

The development of the David Livingstone and Malawi Slave Trade heritage route museum would preserve, develop and enhance Nkhotakota rich cultural heritage making it an attractive tourist destination.

The project comprises of the development of a tourist accommodation, an Information Centre, library, documentation and development of all the cultural heritage sites with other tourist sites within Nkhotakota to enhance the public knowledge about Dr. David Livingstone’s trail on his Malawi expedition and the slave trade route heritage at Nkhotakota.

This project would be under a Public Private Partnership with 40% ownership by the Government of Malawi and 60% by the Private sector. The preferred operational nature of the project is Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT).

ECO-LODGE AT CHONGONI ROCK ART WORLD HERITAGE SITE IN DEDZA DISTRICT

The proposed Eco-lodge World Heritage Site at the forest area of Dedza district would be suitable for accommodation and other facilities for visitors to the Chongoni Rock Art World. The lodge would be constructed with eco-friendly materials giving its location in a protected forest reserve. It is proposed to be concessioned to a private investor under a Public-Private Partnership with the Government of Malawi having 40% stake while the Private investor will have 60% stake. The preferred operational nature of the project is Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT).

SLAVE TRADE HERITAGE THEME PARK AT FORT MANGOCHI HISTORIC SITE.

Fort Mangochi, located in Mangochi District in the Southern Region of Malawi is both historic and an important pre-colonial slave trade World Heritage site in Malawi and in the world because of its contribution to the abolition of slavery. It is aimed at developing and promoting the history of slave trade in Malawi. The Theme Park would provide Eco-friendly accommodation facilities within the forest reserve, adventurous cultural heritage-tourism that would bring to memory the slave trade era as well as holding organized hiking within the mountain. A well-planned education and research programmes and site museum; informative nature and culture trails, entertainment facilities and relaxation platforms for adults and children.

The project would be implemented under a Public-Private Partnership with 40% Government stake and 60% of the Private sector on a Build Operate Transfer (BOT) basis.

ECO-TOURISM LODGES IN LIWONDE NATIONAL PARK

The development of the Eco-tourism lodges in Liwonde National Park under the Public Private Partnership scheme would provide a unique luxury nature-based accommodation for business and leisure tourists to the park. It would comprise of the development of eco-tourist lodges at Chinguni Hills Lodge in the Southern part and Mvera Lodges in the Northern part of the National park respectively.

The two lodges would afford tourists day or night drive safaris (game drives), Walking Safaris, Photographic Safaris, bar and restaurant services, boating in the designated areas of Shire River, and village walks for a complete experience of the areas’ cultural and social settings.

The systematic development of the Eco-tourism sector of Malawi through Investors’ friendly policies and provision of requisite infrastructures will allow for the protection of the Eco-systems, endangered wildlife and the sustainable growth and development of the social and economic life of Malawi.

This promises to be a ‘Win-Win’ situation for the Government, Investors, Conservationist and the Hospitality Industry.

Sources: www.mitc.mw; www.malawitourism.com

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