Only half the size of the UK, nestled in the heart of south east Africa and landlocked between Zambia, Tanzania and Mozambique, Malawi is one of Africa’s smallest countries, but attracting big attention.
This year is the tenth anniversary of the Malawi Travel Marketing Consortium, which is a private concern representing the country’s leading operators, accommodation providers and ground handlers, and the stimulus of destination Malawi’s growing success.
From humble beginnings, the last decade has seen the consortium go from strength-to-strength and is now recognised at the source of reliable and current information on Malawi’s tourism industry. For the last decade with increasing industry competition, the consortium has had to fight smart and strategically to secure a place for Malawi on the world’s tourism stage.
Although the country is blessed with a wealth of natural attributes, it hasn’t benefitted from the same bank-rolling as some of its’ African destination counterparts. However, the ongoing commitment and dedication of consortium members has been plentiful enough to position Malawi as the one to watch in Safari Africa.
Industry and media interest in Malawi has escalated in recent years, and not only as an off-the-beaten track destination and a favourite with independent travellers and Africa enthusiasts. The last few years has seen its’ appeal broaden, attracting attention from top-end travel media such as the Guardian, Condé Nast and Elle. And, in the last eighteen months Malawi has hosted no less than 19 specialist travel writers and two film crews.
Malawi’s marketing has drawn upon its first class wildlife experiences, stunning beaches, water-sports, landscapes, culture and much famed lake known as ‘God’s Aquarium’. Malawi has also been attributed with a relaxed ‘bare foot’ luxury appeal, making it a compelling holiday destination for honeymooners and families.
Consequently, the number of tour operators selling Malawi has multiplied in recent years, and as well as African specialist operators, some of Europe’s largest tour operators including Cox & Kings, Voyages Jules Verne and Saga Travel all now feature Malawi within their itineraries.
Kelly White, Managing Director of Geo Group, which represents the Malawi Travel Marketing Consortium commented:
“Malawi’s broadening appeal in recent years is borne out in statistics, but is not something that has happened overnight. The last ten years have been a challenge, but the outcome is a massive turnaround for Malawi as a destination, with tourism arrivals growing by an average 12 percent a year over a 10 year period and the UK, the number one source market for non-African visitors to Malawi.
Malawi naturally lends itself to tourism; however it has been a combination of excellent product knowledge and strategic marketing, along with the tenacity, passion and endless enthusiasm of the businesses within the consortium that has driven Malawi into the spotlight.”
Over the last twelve months Malawi’s tourism industry has been boosted by significant investment from a number of sources. In the lower Shire Valley, the Majete Wildlife Reserve’s wildlife re-stocking programme has culminated with the re-introduction of predators, and in the east of the country, around $850,000 is being invested by The World Bank into the Nhakotakota Wildlife Reserve.
In addition, the last 2-3 years have seen more product development in Malawi than the previous 10, boosting the diversity of visitor experiences and the number of quality accommodation providers.
Malawi’s success has been given significant industry recognition, through their place in the finals in the ‘Best African Tourism Board in Africa’ category in the 2012 Safari Awards. This is a second time nomination, however the momentum built in recent years within the travel industry and media, places them in good stead with other finalists in the group, including safari industry giants of South Africa, Kenya, Botswana and Namibia.