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Tourism Operators Urged To Prepare For Business

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By Blackson Mkupatira

Minister of Tourism, Culture and Wildlife, Michael Usi, has challenged players in the tourism industry to position themselves strategically on the market by creating new ways of selling their businesses to survive the competition once the industry fully re-opens.

Usi was speaking on Monday at Kara 'o' Mula Lodge in Mulanje District during a meeting with Mulanje tourism players meant to prepare them for business with the hope that the global tourism industry will soon re-open following positive advances in the fight against COVID-19.

The minister acknowledged that the pandemic has negatively affected the tourism sector, saying it forced a lot of businesses to close, leaving many people without jobs and the country's economy in shambles.

"However, it will be over at some point and the world will open up. So we are encouraging each and every player to have a market strategy and package his/her business in a way that would offer a wide range of amusement so that we should be able to compete on the international market," said Usi.

He, therefore, urged the business players to infuse cultural elements like traditional dances and story-telling in their businesses and work complementary to sell the country to the outside world for the tourism industry to thrive.

"One thing we must work together as a country to end is the behaviour of begging tourists. This is a shameful behaviour that makes tourists to lose interest because they feel sorry for us.

"As business owners in the tourism industry, we must work on teaching people to refrain from such behaviours," he lamented.

He then assured them of government support, saying it has not ignored them during these pressing times.

The minister informed the business owners in the tourism industry that they would soon be able to access small and medium enterprise loan facilities to help them boost their joints and stay in business.

"We are also talking with relevant authorities to see how we could ease the burden of electricity and water bills on tourism operators during this COVID-19 period.

“We are also talking with responsible ministries to help with good roads and security because these two aspects are needed for the growth of the tourism industry," he added.

Tourism Association of Mount Mulanje Chairperson, Nancy Ilinayise Chinyanya Longer thanked government for the efforts it has shown in trying to support their businesses during the crisis through loans and trainings.

She, however, asked government to move quickly in making the loans accessible to business entities, saying now was the time they needed it the most.

"I operate a restaurant at Likhubula and because of the Coronavirus I was forced to close and lay off all my employees as I was hopeless.

“What the minister has said here today has given me hope and encouragement that soon I will reopen. In the meantime, I just hope we could access the loans soon so that we could re-establish and improve our businesses," she said.

Among others, the meeting was attended by representatives from Kara 'o' Mula Lodge, Hapuwani Village Lodge, Getway Lodge, Mulanje View Motel, Nancy's Dream Restaurant and Fanizo Lodge.

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