Malawi and South Africa have today signed an agreement of cooperation in the field of tourism as one way of enhancing mutual cooperation between the two countries in the sector.
The signing agreement took place at Bingu International Convention Centre (BICC) in Lilongwe on the sidelines of the Malawi “Takulandirani” 2017 Malawi International Tourism Expo 2017.
Malawi’s Minister of Trade, Industry and Tourism, Henry Mussa, said government of Malawi appreciates the support it gets from South Africa in the tourism sector.
Mussa said South Africa has assisted in the capacity building of grading assessors, restocking of wildlife species in protected areas and training of wildlife personnel at South Africa Wildlife College.
He said the issue of having the agreement signed has been well overdue and it has taken the two countries seven years to sign it.
The minister pointed out that the agreement would cement the already existing cooperation between the two countries as they have a lot in common.
“Culturally we are one people and family; many tribes in Malawi have their origins from South Africa, the Ngonis are an example,” Mussa said.
The minister observed that the signing of the agreement is a big leap to strengthen Malawi’s relations with South Africa as the country has a lot to offer to the Rainbow nation in terms of business investments and tourism activities.
South Africa’s minister responsible for tourism Tokozile Xasa said the tourism sector need to be viewed as a great contributor of direct labour force and said her government took a bold stand in 2009 to have the tourism department on its own for it to exploit the potential tourism opportunities of the country to the maximum.
Xasa said the tourism sector in South Africa contributes about 9 per cent of the country’s Growth Domestic Product (GDP) and offers almost 1.5 million direct employment to the labour force.
She hoped that the signing of the agreement between the two countries would help to grow and enhance people to people relationships.
“We need to cooperate in another of areas such as flights, visa issues, visas and small-scale business for the local people,” Xasa said.
The cooperation agreement covers areas of marketing and promotion, investment, training, sponsorships and fellowships, exchange of information and tourist transfers.