Chikwawa — Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Culture, Michael Usi on Wednesday urged local communities to support the tourism industry in Malawi, saying the wildlife parks are not there for international tourists only.
Usi said this during a visit to Majete Game Reserve in Chikwawa District where he also commended management for their good coordination in the management of the wildlife reserve.
"People should not think that our game reserves are made for outsiders or international tourists. The locals should also take part by visiting them to appreciate the beautiful species we have in this country.
"We partnered with African Parks in 2003 and since then, we have appreciated the developmental activities they have done to Majete and its surrounding areas," said the minister.
"Among other things, the game reserve has changed and supported lives of people living in its catchment area through various initiatives," added Usi.
Park Manager at Majete Wildlife Reserve, John Adendorff, hailed the minister's visit, saying they had a chance to raise some of the challenges they face to government.
Adendorff said they work hand in hand with the local communities as one way of strengthening their living standards and security.
Field Operations Manager for Majete Wildlife Reserve, Gervaz Thamala said while they were trying to fulfill their objectives, the advent of Coronavirus has crippled their operations.
"COVID-19 has greatly affected the economy of the park since we depend on international tourists, but as it is now, we no longer have visitors from abroad.
"At the moment, we depend on a blessing from local tourists as one way of income generation for the park," explained Thamala.
He disclosed that there is good coordination with people that live in the park's surrounding areas which, he said, saw most of them finding job opportunities inside the park.
"They have business opportunities and we have provided scholarships to over 100 students on top of other benefits," said Thamala.
Located to the South West of Chikwawa District, the 700-square-kilometre Majete Wildlife Reserve is also the home of the big five (elephants, lions, buffaloes, rhinos and leopards).
Locals rarely visit tourist attraction sites in Malawi, a tendency the tourism authorities have detested as not encouraging to the industry.
However, some local communities have attributed their failure to visit the various tourist attraction sites in the country to exorbitant charges not befitting their income.
Others believe Malawians are not yet in the habit of appreciating beauty.