Only law abiding tourism units to benefit from COVID-19 cushion funds

By Tione Andsen, MANA

Ministry of Environment, Tourism and Wildlife has stressed that only law abiding tourism units will qualify to get a financial boost from the special fund meant to cushion the industry in light of the COVID-19 inflicted economic shocks.

The Ministry’s public relations officer (PRO), Milca Manyozo told Malawi News Agency (Mana) on Wednesday in Lilongwe that government was concerned with the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic had affected most of players in the tourism industry and needs assistance to survive.

A tourist attraction

But Manyozo was quick to mention that not all tourism operators were illegible to get the assistance but that only those who abide to the standards and requirements of the sector such as licensing and reciting tax would benefit.

“The funds were identified; we will focus on assisting those law abiding tourism units. Those that are licensed by Tourism and Hotels Board and are tax compliant,” she said.

Tongole Wilderness Lodge in Nkhotakota Wildlife

Manyozo said arrangements are already underway to bring tourism players in the industry to submit their requirements to government for consideration, which they have since done through Malawi Tourism Council (MTC).

The assistance will be handled by two committees that are in place – to tackle labour and economic issues.

Kaya Mawa tourist resort on Likoma Island

All labour issues will be handled by labour cluster championed by Ministry of Labour and the economic ones will be handled by economic cluster.

According to MTC, monthly salaries for the industry go up to over K7.4 billion.

In a letter to Malawi Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCI), the MTC had argued that it was necessary to redeem the industry since it contributes K13.5 billion per month during stable economic conditions.

Kara o’Mula on Mulanje

The COVID-19 pandemic has so far, affected almost all the sectors of the country’s economy with the tourism sector being among the worst hit alongside aviation.

Recently, Reserve Bank of Malawi released an indicative report that the industry would shrink by 9.9 percent contrary to its projected growth of about 4.8 percent this year.

Government approximated that the sector had lost part of its labour force of over 35,000 employees since March, 2020.

Coronavirus alert

MTC has since hailed government for the move to rescue the industry, saying it will ensure recovery and sustainability of the industry.

On government’s decision to only assist tax compliant units, MTC chairperson, Van Der Linden said that it was a welcome development to the industry.

Coronavirus alert

“That is normal and we have already communicated that to our members,” he said. “We have agreed with government that only those who have been tax compliant up to March will be ones to benefit.” 

Government’s move to cushion the tourism sector comes after players in the industry wrote to government through MTC in April, 2020, requesting for assistance particularly on salaries.

They had expressed hope that government would help pay at least 50 percent of the salaries.