The national park is well-known for its unique wild life species, and is one of the areas the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation recommended for preservation as a World Heritage Site. A spokesperson for Malawi’s Department of National Parks and Wildlife says in a statement the concession will involve the establishment of a lodge facility with components such as accommodation units, lounge/restaurant/bar, small conference room, swimming pool, camping site and staff housing.
“The concessionaire will also be expected to undertake any infrastructural improvements at the site deemed necessary to promote the ecotourism business,” says the spokesperson.
The government also expects the concessionaire to promote several ecotourism activities to maximise visitor experience and satisfaction.
The spokesperson says it is imperative that tender documents from the ecotourism operators demonstrate the operator’s financial and technical abi-lity to manage quality tourism facilities and services.
“Interested tour operators are required to submit a full technical and business proposal setting out company objectives and strategy, demonstrating an understanding of the resource base, indicating potential tourist activities and services, scaled site plans and a development schedule, staffing and marketing plans, and a full financial analysis,” says the spokesperson.
The spokesperson says the tenders must also indicate the expected cooperation between the operator and the government and local communities in delivering benefits to conservation and the local people.
The deadline for the tenders is February 28, 2005, and tender documents may be obtained from the department for a nonrefundable fee of $100.
The Malawian government is working on facilitating the development of tourism infrastructure, since tourism is one of the sectors which are a priority for development in the country’s growth strategy plan.
Malawi has a number of potential ecotourism sites, which the government wants to concession to private investors following the launch of its strategic tourism development plan in 2003.
The tourism development plan focuses on the construction of lodges in a number of ecotourism sites in the country with the aim of developing the Southern African country into an ecotourism destination.
Among other tourism projects, the government is scouting for an investor to construct an ecolodge at the foot of the country’s highest mountain, Mulanje Mountain.
The government’s development plan has recommended the development of a 20-room ecolodge at the site at an estimated cost of $1,7-million.
There are also plans for construction of ecolodges at Manchewe Falls, in the northern Livingstonia Highlands, and at Kande Beach, in the northern Nkhata Bay district.
The government already awarded a number of concessions to investors for the development of ecotourism in some potential areas in the country.
The investors include South African-based Africa Parks and Science Company, which was awarded a concession for tourism infrastructure development at Majete Game Reserve, in the Southern Shire Valley district of Chikwawa.
Malawi is actively promoting the tourism sector as a way of diversifying from overdependence on agriculture since sales for the dominant cash crop, tobacco, are threatened by the worldwide antismoking lobby.
Agriculture currently contributes about 37% to Malawi’s gross domestic product (GDP) while tourism accounts for only 4% of GDP.
Edited by: Marcel Chimwala
Creamer Media Correspondent
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