* We have done pre-feasibility study and the good thing is that Mulanje is a popular tourist destination
* Cable cars are intended to assist in creating job opportunities, increasing tax revenue and levies for the country
* Promoting a sense of pride among citizens and residence, enhancing Mulanje, Zomba and Malawi profile
* And bringing infrastructural development and of course spill over benefits to other sectors
By Mercy Nsaliwa, MANA
Ministry of Tourism, Culture & Wildlife say they are waiting for investors to finalize the plans of introducing cable cars on Mulanje and Zomba mountains as one way of improving tourism services in the country.
Spokesperson, Simon Mbvundula announced the completion of a study on establishing the cable cars on the two mountains.
“We have done pre-feasibility study and the good thing is that Mulanje is a popular tourist destination and there are no worries for investors to accept it,” he said on Saturday.
“Cable cars are intended to assist in creating job opportunities, increasing tax revenue and levies for the country, promoting a sense of pride among citizens and residence, enhancing Mulanje, Zomba and Malawi profile and bringing infrastructural development and of course spill over benefits to other sectors.”
He said the Tourism Department shall provide a marketing strategy to popularize the investment to both local and international tourists.
An economic expert, Arthur Ngwende said the significance of the project on both economic and service level sectors, adding that the initiative “was suggested long-time ago and if such services are available in the country, it will create opportunities for people to spend more on the service which will bring forex to the country”.
“If we have more services, those mountains will assist in bringing more money and increase the country’s Gross Domestic Product,” he said.
Cable cars are a type of cable railways used for mass transit in which rail cars are held by a continuously moving cable running at a constant speed.
In 2019, Stewart the Cyclist, the young man who went on a charity adventure for Friends of Orphans (FOMO) by successfully hiking Mount Kilimanjaro before cycling back to Malawi to also climb up Mulanje Mountain, was surprised when he and the other hikers were only asked to only K1,000 each as the hiking fee.
He was incredulous that this was less than US$1) each yet back at Kilimanjaro, hikers pay US$800 as park fees. In his yet to be public memoir, he says: “I felt sorry for my country that tourists pay that low to access our Mulanje hiking park. And I do not know where this K1,000 goes to, because I know for sure at Kilimanjaro the fees go straight into government coffers.
“I wished we could learn from our Tanzanian counterparts. We are sleeping on the job in as far as tourism is concerned for Mulanje Mountain,” he writes in his yet to be published book.
Most people have always complained that most tourist resort are restrictive for locals as their prices are quoted in foreign currency. Writing on his Facebook page, Kondwani Zulu talked of Ghana Village Restaurant within the environs of the Royal Lapalm Hotel on Labadi Beach in Accra, which he visited.
He said the hotel has four restaurants catering to various needs and I n the Ghana Village Restaurant, “they only prepare local cuisine and the price is reasonable”.
“When I stayed in the hotel, this was the most patronized restaurant. It’s main clientele is not the guests but locals who come for food and drink.
Reminded me of the Vintage Restaurant that used to exist at Ryalls eons ago where the favourite was ‘ma bones’. Our hotels don’t seem to cater for non guests and are elitist, save for Sportsman Bar in Mount Soche.
Thomas Taimu responded by saying: “Our hotels are rooted into tradition. There are no efforts to innovate”, while Emmanuel Munthali said Mzuzu Hotel does lunches for the locals though restricted to week days only.
Leonard Zondetsa observed that the hospitality industry in Malawi in general “lacks creativity, inclusiveness and is too much focussed on making extraordinary profits from a tiny clientele — which is very elitist in nature.Learn from big guys in the industry like Kenya, Zambia, Tanzania, Ghana just to mention a few”.
Lameck Khonje chipped in to say “comparing our industry in Malawi to what one obtains elsewhere, one surely will conclude that gaps exist in this area. The industry has a lot of potential to become inclusive”.
Michael Sepula marveled Ghana Village Restaurant services, describing is as “a great innovation in gastronomy indeed. Far too long, our hotels have generally westernised the cuisine offered in their dining spaces. Our hotels need mindset change and carry out a market research on this subject.
“Notwithstanding, this practice is slowly changing as many a people are migrating to the consumption of more locally prepared foods. The prominence of the local foods on our menus can only be achieved if the hotels begin to realise that times have changed.
The Pamudzi Eatery & Bar [situated in Mandala residential area] concept can be the best example that our hotels need to emulate. I have seen some Stop Over businesses promoting the local cuisine as well.
“Of course, a lot has to be done to improve on aspects of hygiene, ambience/decor, service delivery, service people, etc. Sunbird Hotels have specific days in a week they promote local dishes but we are talking about dedicating a well appointed dining space with a Malawian touch where such meals are prepared and consumed everyday, with reasonable pricing.
“We can make Malawi known for its culinary flare and eventually boost gastronomy tourism. We can do it.”
People have observed that other hospitality service providers premises, pedestrians are always stopped at the gate and are questioned the type of business they are coming for — yet this should never be the case.
Even those that are let free to drive in, whose body language is deemed not fit for their elitist are just lied to that all rooms are fully booked.
Perhaps, the cable cars shall attract more local Malawian tourists, since they will be a novel service.—Additional reporting by Duncan Mlanjira, Maravi Express