Highlights of Takulandirani Tourism Expo 2023

Malawi recently hosted a highly successful international tourism expo, Takulandirani 2023. The two-day expo attracted 115 exhibitors, 64% more than the Department of Tourism expected, from Malawi and the region. I had a chat with some of the exhibitors as well as the deputy director of the Department of Tourism.

Malawian culture and music

Ben Michael Mankhamba at Chingalire Village pavillion
Village Headman Ben Mankhamba and his Chingalire Village team

My first stop was at the pavilion of the awesome Ben Michael Mankhamba – a Malawian musician (guitarist, singer, songwriter, composer and performer). He is also Village Headman Chingalire and owns Chingalire Rural Homestay and Rural Growth Centre just outside Lilongwe City. Mankhamba’s ecotourism facility offers accommodation, activities, workshops and live music. The centre also has a cultural troupe that performs traditional dances that are aimed at promoting and preserving culture.

A display of food and other items at the Chingalire Village pavillion at Takulandirani 2023

Likoma Island getaway

Thinking of escaping to an island? Likoma and Chizumulu islands on Lake Malawi have a number of lodging and camping facilities. Domino Coconut Resort in the Chiponde area is one such lodge. The resort has a floating bar where you can soak up as much sun as you want. They also offer boat tours around the island. Alternatively, you can enjoy a lazy evening watching Malipenga dancers on the beach.

Dominos Report on Likoma Island

Staff from Dimino’s said that there are a number of ways to get to Likoma Island apart from taking the MV Ilala. Likoma Express is a recently introduced two-hour shuttle service from Nkhata Bay to Likoma and Chizumulu Islands. The 20-seater boat operates daily. I was also told that the Malawi Air Force transfers passengers to the island although they didn’t have the exact details of how to access this service.

Malipenga dancers performing at Dominos report on Likoma Island
Malipenga dancers performing at Dominos Resort

Escape to the wild side

tourism minister vera kamtukule at Departmet of parks and wildlife
Tourism Minister Vera Kamtukule (middle) with Transport Minister Jacob Hara and Finance Minister Sosten Gwengwe at the Department of Parks and Wildlife pavillion © VoyagesAfriq

The two excellent wildlife management and conservation success stories, Liwonde National Park and Majete Game Reserve were represented by capable exhibitors. The two parks have contributed greatly to making Malawi Africa’s newest Big 5 destination. Liwonde and Majete have also contributed to the rebirth of Nkhatokota Game Reserve when in 2016 they contributed over 500 elephants during the largest elephant translocation programme.

Liwonde National Park at Takulandirani 2023 tourism expo
Liwonde National Park’s Wall of Success

Food, oh glorious food

The name, and chocolate, that’s on everybody’s lips. Kwanza Cocoa is a Mzuzu based, producer of craft chocolates and confectionaries. The choice of flavours is wide – spicy, fruity, alcoholic, the choice is yours!

Kwanza Cocoa exhibiting at Takulandirani 2023

Rising water levels in Lake Malawi

An official of the Mangochi Tourism Association, a grouping of hotels and lodges in the lake district, lamented the rising water levels in Lake Malawi. Due to increased rainfall this rainy season, rising water has inundated resorts and other facilities along the lakeshore. Some properties are under water while beaches are completely submerged in others.

Wezi Katenga from Nkwichi Lodge along the Mozambican side of Lake Malawi posted this in March.

State of the tourism industry

I had a chat with Sosten Lingwalanya, the deputy director of the Department of Tourism. I inquired about the progress of the implementation of projects under the Malawi Tourism Development Master Plan and was referred to the Public Private Partnership Commission (PPPC). The PPPC is the sole authority that facilitates the implementation of public-private partnership programmes in Malawi. The commission didn’t respond to my request for this information.

Sigelege hotels pavillion

Lingwalanya expressed optimism about the potential that the tourism sector has. He however lamented that some investors do not build properties according to standards that have been laid down by the department. There are many cases where properties are constructed without consideration for standards. When the department refused to grant a license, some property owners try to use politics to influence the process. In some cases, the department has had the last laugh as either those poorly constructed properties do not stand the test of time or tourists do not patronise the facility due to their poor design.

There has also been poor between different government departments, Lingwalanya said. One case in point where poor coordination has been a problem is when the Ministry of Lands allocates land for tourism properties to be constructed in areas that the Department of Tourism does not deem fit for tourism developments.

arts and crafts exhibitor at Takulandirani malawi tourism expo
An arts and crafts exhibitor at the Takulandirani 2023 tourism expo © VoyagesAfriq
Department of tourism information desk
The Department of Tourism information desk

Take aways from Takulandirani Tourism Expo 2023

After the absence of the expo due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the return of the Takulandirani 2023 was an important step in putting Malawi back into the international tourism spotlight. The fact that the event was oversubscribed goes to show how important this platform is to players in the tourism sector. It is also a crucial sector of the economy of Malawi as expressed by the minister of tourism in her recent public lecture.

President Lazarus Chakwera to Takulandirani 2023
President Lazurus Chakwera arriving at the closing ceremony of the Malawi tourism expo © VoyagesAfriq

In his remarks, President Lazarus Chakwera said that the Takulandirani Malawi International Tourism Expo has unveiled growth prospects of the sector in infrastructure, jobs and revenue. He reiterated his government’s support of tourism through heavy investment in governance systems, modern roads, rail networks, airports and water transport.

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