Minister Usi promotes teamwork at Tourism Department for national development

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Minister Usi promotes teamwork at Tourism Department for national development
Minister Usi promotes teamwork at Tourism Department for national development

Africa-PressMalawi. Minister of Tourism, Culture and Wildlife, Michael Usi, has said teamwork is critical in helping the Department of Tourism achieve its ultimate goal of promoting Malawi as a tourist destination.

The minister said this on Friday, July 23, 2021 in Mangochi at the end of a three day team building and interface session with officers from the Department of Tourism in the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Wildlife.

He said it is important for officers to develop lines of communication amongst each other and work as a team so that they truly represent the vision of the department and contribute positively to national development. He said differences are inevitable in every work environment but what is important is to keep the differences professional and health, and to use them as a source of strength rather than a source of being frustrated by them.

“Conflicts are normal in a work environment, but it the human capital that will make conflicts between being constructive and being destructive. You therefore have a choice to make your conflicts destructive or constructive, which is why the Bible said come now let us reason together my people.

“It is important that each one of you understands your vision, mission and core values because it represents who you are and where you want to be,” said the minister.

Usi noted that many officers in the department are well educated, and that many of them have the desire and passion to pursue further education. He emphasized, however, that tourism is about marketing, about culture, and about arts, and that for officers to be relevant, it is not only about education but also personal attributes as well as love for one another.

He added that this is the only way they can be problem solvers and deal with the myriad challenges that the department is facing Making her presentation earlier, Director of Tourism, Alice Magombo said the department thought of coming together for the interface meeting in order to improve communication lines between individuals and their offices as well as to iron out differences that often arise in work environments like theirs.

Magombo said initially, the tourism department fell under the Ministry of Trade until 1980 when it was made into a full ministry after government recognised that tourism has the potential to replace tobacco as the country’s major foreign exchange earner.

She added that the focus of the department now is to become more business oriented and operate as a business. The director said, however, that achieving that objective is a challenge because the department it is poorly situated due to its mandate.

Among the challenges that she said the tourism sector faces in the country is that compared to other countries in the region, Malawi is unattractive as a tourist destination because of such factors as expensive VISA (the highest in SADC) and lack of direct flights to the country from Europe; poor tourism infrastructure; expensive accommodation; and a general poor visibility in the international tourism directory.

She said this is the reason why the department has gone full-throttle in orienting all its officers in marketing so that they become aggressive and reliable ambassadors in the promotion of tourism in the country.

“We need qualified officers to sell our country as a tourist destination. We also need a tourism champion to help sell our concepts to other ministries in order to help them understand our strategies, particularly to reduce the red tape that often slows down progress in clearing the regulatory cobwebs that prevent tourists from coming to Malawi.

“We also need to have tourism attaches in embassies like United Kingdom and Germany as it was before to help sell the country as a tourism destination on top of lobbying hotels and resorts to bring down their prices,” said Magombo in her presentation.

The interface session brought together tourism officers from Blantyre, Lilongwe and Mzuzu and apart from interacting and discussing the nitty-gritties of tourism promotion strategies, the officers also had an opportunity to ask the minister questions related to how the ministry can move forward as an engine of tourism promotion in the country.

The minister, who has previously worked as Country Director for ADRA Malawi, enlightened the officers in areas ranging from how the ministry would cast the net wider in terms of raising resources through the development of proposals to donors to fund specific projects, how the department should relate to its various stakeholders in the areas of taxes, licensing and the internet.

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