Over 35,000 employees lose jobs in Malawi Tourism industry over COVID-19

Malawi Tourism is currently under tight threat over COVID-19 as reports say over 35,000 people have lost their jobs due to closure of some hospitality businesses.

On 7th April, Malawi registered three more cases of coronavirus bringing the total number of confirmed cases to eight, with 1 death.

The presence of Coronavirus in the country has impacted so much on the tourism and hospitality industry leading to closure of some businesses as well as job loses to about 35,000 people.

Director in the Department of Tourism, Isaac Katopola said on Wednesday that the industry is arguably the hardest hit sector due the advent of the Coronavirus pandemic.

He said his office has received reports from the industry on temporary closure, permanent closures of tourism and hospitality businesses and firing of workforce, which are in excess of 35,000.

Katopola said the reason is the fact that they cannot make money because almost all local and international bookings are cancelled, similarly with Conferences and meetings.

“However, the tourism private sector players have since engaged the Malawi Government for bailout packages to avoid more closures and retrenchment of employees in the sector and Government is now considering the temporary packages.

“On prevention of transmission, we have developed more robust guidelines and circulated to enterprises. Before the introduction of working shifts for government employees, we have been conducting sensitization together with distribution of guidelines by government,” said Katopola

Manager for Chikale Beach in the lakeshore district of Nkhatabay, Josephine Imani said things are not well with COVID-19 and they have been forced to trim number of workers from 29 to only 10.

Imani said they had a series of bookings in the conferences and shows but they have all been cancelled due to the pandemic.

“We feel like just close the business but still we just have hoped that a few people that come will help us. We have sent home about 19 workers on unpaid holiday because we can no longer make money to manage pay them,” said Imani

Green Safaris, owners of Kaya Mawa lodges in Likoma Island, said they are expecting serious revenue loss in 2020 and if the situation continues after August 2020, they will consider further measures.

One of the officers at Majizuwa lodges along Lake Malawi in the Northern region district of Karonga, Nation Nyasulu confirmed of closing business and sent home 12 workers at the site.

He said most of visitors at their site come from western and European countries and with Coronavirus they have all retreated.