Tourism officials at Mulanje District Forestry Office have expressed concern over the decline in tourists’ visits saying the office has recorded an 86 percent decrease in tourists’ visits for the first time in a decade.
Senior tourist attendant for Likhubula Forestry Office, Macdonald Kolokombe, attributed the situation to the COVID-19 pandemic as tourists are not travelling as much in compliance to prevention guidelines.
“We have been hit hard by COVID-19 as a tourism site, because of the number of tourists who are visiting in this era. Before Covid-19 we were receiving 1,255 tourists every month on average while only 180 tourists are visiting per month now,” said Kolokombe.
According to him the slump in visits has affected revenue collection which they get through gate fees and accommodation subsequently affecting individuals who rely on the site to generate income like guides and porters.
Despite the situation, Kolokombe said records of Malawians who have been visiting Mulanje over the years is pleasing as it is increasing.
“Malawians visiting and hiking mount Mulanje are increasing, this simply shows that Malawians have realised the need of keeping themself fit and appreciating the nature on the other hand,” he said.
A local hiker who went with fellow hikers from Kasungu on Easter holidays, MacDonald Chiputula, said the visit to the mountain has given him a great experience.
“Since my childhood I always wanted to visit this place mostly because of the two famous places Sapitwa and Dziwe la Nkhalamba which are in Malawian books. The visit has accomplished the desire I had plus has given me a great hiking experience very different from all the mountains I have hiked,” Chiputula said.
Mulanje Mountain, which has a total of 11 huts which accommodate many tourists during their visits, is the third largest mountain in African with 640 square kilometers in size.