Malawi Scraps Visa Requirements for 47 Countries to Boost Tourism

Malawi has scrapped visa requirements for 47 countries, including India, China, the US, and the UK, in a bid to boost tourism and trade. The move, which took effect on January 1, 2024, allows citizens of these countries to enter Malawi without a visa for up to 90 days. Malawi’s Minister of Tourism, Culture and Wildlife, Michael Usi, said the decision was aimed at making Malawi more accessible and attractive to visitors and investors.


Malawi’s Tourism Sector Suffers from Covid-19 Pandemic

Malawi’s tourism sector, which is one of the main contributors to the country’s economy, has suffered from the Covid-19 pandemic, which has affected travel and tourism worldwide. According to the World Bank, Malawi’s tourism revenue declined by 70% in 2020, and by 40% in 2021, compared to the pre-pandemic levels. The pandemic also caused job losses, business closures, and reduced foreign exchange earnings for the country.

Malawi’s Minister of Tourism, Culture and Wildlife, Michael Usi, said the pandemic had exposed the vulnerability and fragility of the tourism sector, and that the country needed to diversify and innovate its tourism products and services. He said the country also needed to improve its infrastructure, connectivity, and security, to enhance its competitiveness and attractiveness as a destination.

Malawi’s Visa Waiver Policy Aims to Revive Tourism Sector

Malawi’s visa waiver policy, which was announced in December 2023, aims to revive the tourism sector, by making it easier and cheaper for visitors and investors to enter the country. The policy applies to 47 countries, which are mostly from Africa, Asia, Europe, and North America. The policy also applies to holders of diplomatic and service passports from all countries.

Malawi’s Minister of Tourism, Culture and Wildlife, Michael Usi, said the policy was based on the principle of reciprocity, and that the country expected the same treatment from the countries that benefited from the policy. He said the policy was also based on the principle of mutual benefit, and that the country hoped to increase its tourism arrivals, trade volumes, and investment inflows, from the countries that benefited from the policy.

Usi said the policy was part of the country’s efforts to implement the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which aims to create a single market for goods and services, and to facilitate the movement of people, across the continent. He said the policy was also part of the country’s efforts to align with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which promote peace, prosperity, and partnership, among other things.

Malawi’s Tourism Attractions and Opportunities

Malawi, which is also known as the Warm Heart of Africa, has a variety of tourism attractions and opportunities, that appeal to different types of visitors and investors. Some of these attractions and opportunities include:

  • Lake Malawi, which is the third largest lake in Africa, and the ninth largest in the world. The lake is home to diverse and endemic fish species, and offers activities such as swimming, boating, fishing, and snorkeling.
  • Liwonde National Park, which is the most popular wildlife reserve in the country, and hosts animals such as elephants, hippos, crocodiles, antelopes, and birds.
  • Mulanje Mountain, which is the highest mountain in Central Africa, and a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. The mountain is a hotspot for hiking, climbing, and camping, and has scenic views, waterfalls, and forests.
  • Lake Chilwa, which is the second largest lake in the country, and a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance. The lake is a haven for birdwatchers, as it hosts over 160 bird species, including migratory and endangered ones.
  • Zomba Plateau, which is a highland area that offers a cool and refreshing escape from the heat. The plateau has natural attractions such as streams, dams, and forests, and offers activities such as horse riding, biking, and picnicking.

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