By Joel Chirwa, MANA
Minister of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining, Binton Kutsaira has said government is enhancing investment efforts in protection and conservation of wildlife so that the country reaps more benefits from tourism sector.
He made the remarks Monday at an official handover of runner Aircraft to Vwaza Marsh Wildlife Reserve ceremony.
Kutsaira said the country’s major foreign exchange earner Tobacco is facing growing anti-smoking lobby that is the reason government is putting tourism sector at the fore front.
“We are prioritizing tourism, we have put tourism at the fore front. Government of Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika has put a lot of efforts in improving the wildlife conservation and general management of protected areas,” the Minister said.
He said among others government is working in partnership with Peace Park Foundation to manage the protected area.
Kutsaira observed that general strides made in improving conservation efforts and protection of biodiversity has a positive bearing on the tourism sector.
“The general improvement of the protected areas has multiplier effect on tourism sector particularly now that there is anti-smoking lobby and the general shrinking of tobacco prices,” he said.
Kutsaira observed that the acquisition of the air-craft at Vwaza Wildlife Game Reserve would boost efforts of tackling poaching and general management of the wildlife reserve.
“This donation is a milestone towards conservation efforts especially increasing cases of wildlife crimes. This is a critical resource that will provide real-time resources in tackling cases of poaching in our protected areas,” he observed.
Peace Parks Foundation Chief Executive Officer (CEO), whose company is managing Vwaza Wildlife Reserve, Werner Myburgh said his company would build access roads and an electric fence.
He said Malawi tourism sector has potential to reap more as many tourists from Europe and elsewhere visit Africa.
“Tourists come to Malawi because of its wildlife. Malawi has greatest potential in the conservation market but only utilizes the fraction of that market. We feel if we can improve facilities Malawi has potential to attract more tourists,” Myburgh said.
He said among other plans is geared to improve facilities to in the protected areas to attract more visitors to the sites.
The CEO said the company has set a target of having about 20,000 visitors touring the protected area annually in the next 15 years.