Leading global travel publisher, Lonely Planet, has yet again named Malawi among the top 10 countries as Best in Travel list for 2022 and rising African star, making its second appearance in eight years on this most respected of travel inspiration lists.
The destinations chosen by Lonely Planet span the world and are intended to inspire and excite travellers as they plan their trips in 2022 and beyond.
According to a press release shared with Nyasa Times, the countries were judged on their topicality, unique experiences and 'wow' factor, plus a particular emphasis this year on sustainability - ensuring these are destinations in which travellers can make a positive impact.
With the world still emerging from the Covid pandemic and international travel still under restrictions, the 2022 list is intended as a bucket list for the future as well as a to-visit list for right now.
The statement emphasizes that Malawi is certainly full of wonderful experiences and is fast becoming one of the most complete destinations in Africa, offering its visitors a unique combination of thrilling safaris, stunning landscapes, amazing beaches and warm & friendly people.
"The country has always taken a considered and sustainable approach to its tourism, is fully open and can be easily visited by all nationalities straight away," says the report.
According to Lonely Planet's VP of Experience Tom Hall, the Lonely Planet's 17th annual "hot list" of destinations and travel experiences could not be more timely.
"After an enforced hiatus, it's time to take those long-postponed travel plans off the shelf and make them a reality. These lists celebrate the world in all its wonderful enticing variety," Hall said.
The Best in Travel lists are very carefully compiled, beginning with ALL members of the Lonely Planet staff, over 200 travel writers, bloggers and more sharing their passion and experience of places they believe should be hot in the year ahead. The long list of thousands is whittled down to a shortlist for an expert panel to make final decision upon, taking into account:
How much the destination has demonstrated a commitment to sustainability, inclusivity and community in tourism.
How much this destination will be ready to welcome visitors and that visitors will be keen to return in 2022.
How excited the judges were by the destination and the idea of traveling there.
The statement says there have been just 14 appearances on Best in Travel by countries on the African continent during the last 10 years, and two of those are for Malawi, so it's clearly a country that continues to stand out and excite the Lonely Planet community of travel experts.
"With Sustainability, Community and Diversity at the heart of the selection criteria, it's no surprise that Malawi scored highly again. The country is in the middle of a conservation revolution, with the approach of African Parks to the management of a number of Malawi's National Parks and Wildlife Reserves proving hugely successful and shining as an example to the world.
"Hailed as the 'Warm Heart of Africa', Malawi has long been recognised as having the friendliest people in the world and offers unrivalled opportunities for natural cultural interaction with welcoming local communities. And you would be hard pushed to find a Malawi lodge that isn't actively helping its local communities through not only employment and secondary enterprises but active projects that are supported by tourism," it says.
Malawi's tourist industry, it adds, and all the people and environments that it supports, have suffered badly during the pandemic but this boost for the country going in to 2022 gives great hope that the trajectory of tourism growth established pre-COVID will be quickly recovered next year as more and more international visitors appreciate its attractions and delights.
The report further states that Malawi is a genuine hidden gem in Africa. It is a small yet beautifully varied and welcoming country which remains uncrowded with tourists. The Landscape, the Wildlife, the Lake and, of course, the People, combine to make this one of Africa's most amazing countries.
Travellers and tourists are just starting to discover its attractions. Neglected in the past for no better reason than it was little known, this is one of the safest and friendliest countries in all Africa, with a fascinating variety of sights and experiences on offer.
The national parks, diverse landscapes and huge Lake (an inland, freshwater sea surrounded by golden sand beaches) provide the foundation for a massive variety of experiences and activities.
Wildlife safaris are possible by 4×4, by boat, on foot or even on horseback. Lake Malawi offers sailing, kayaking, snorkelling, scuba diving, water-skiing, swimming or just relaxing on a beach. The highlands and forests are great places for trekking, climbing, mountain biking and walking. All of this in a country where natural cultural interaction is a daily occurrence and the genuine smiles that greet all visitors really do make it the 'Warm Heart of Africa'.
Lonely Planet is a world-leading travel publisher: a globe-spanning digital travel media company and the world's number one travel guidebook brand. We've been providing both inspiring and trustworthy information for every kind of traveller since 1973. We reach hundreds of millions of travellers each year online and via our mobile products and help them unlock amazing experiences.
"Over the past 40 years we've printed over 145 million guidebooks as well as countless other titles showcasing the wonders of the world for travellers of all types. Lonely Planet can be found on lonelyplanet.com, mobile, video and in 14 languages, 13 international magazines, armchair and lifestyle books, ebooks and more.
"At Lonely Planet we seek to make a difference in people's lives by spreading the power of travel. We firmly believe that travel has a significant positive impact on people's lives and outlooks and is a force of positive change.
"Visit us at lonelyplanet.com and join our 14 million followers on Facebook (facebook.com/lonelyplanet), Twitter (@lonelyplanet), Instagram (instagram.com/lonelyplanet) and Snapchat (@lonely.planet)," concludes the statement.