Malawi's Tourism Minister, Ken Lipenga, reports that the Malawi government has launched a fresh hunt for an investor for the hotel project as giant car manufacturer DaimlerChrysler, which had earlier shown interest in the project, has become silent on the issue.
He says DaimlerChrysler, who wrote to the country's president, Bakili Muluzi, in February last year indicating interest in the hotel venture, had promised to assign a South African firm, Donier Systems, to conduct a feasibility study on the project. He says since then there has been no news regarding the project from the automobile maker.
"They had shown great interest in Malawi but they may have had their own difficulties regarding the project because they are not into hotels," explains Lipenga.
Malawi's parastatal responsible for undertaking development projects, the Malawi Development Corporation (MDC) has been promoting the project.
MDC has planned to build a 150-bedroom four-star hotel facility and is seeking a partner, especially one conversant with ecotourism, as the proposed hotel project site is within Lake Malawi National Park.
In a related development, the Malawi government is planning to refurbish a lodge known as Golden Sand in the same Cape Maclear area.
Lipenga reports that, after refurbishment, the Malawi government, which owns the lodge, will concession it to a private operator. He says this will be done in line with Malawi's tourism policy of letting the private sector play a key role in tourism business.
Lipenga says the Malawi government will soon make funds available for the refurbishment project. He would not detail the cost of the project.
Malawi has launched a campaign to promote its tourism sector and turn it into one of its main foreign exchange earners, as the sales of tobacco, the country's major foreign exchange earner, are under threat from the worldwide anti-smoking lobby.
One of the strategies the country is using to boost the tourism sector is the building of hotels of international standards as there are only a few hotels of that standard in the country.
Tourism contributes three to four per cent of Malawi's gross domestic product but analysts say the sector has the potential to contribute much more than that to the country's agriculture-driven economy.
Edited by: Marcel Chimwala
Creamer Media Correspondent
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