Although Malawi has historically not been one of the most visited African countries, times appear to be changing. Over the last decade, tourism has grown steadily, with the last five years seeing a rapid acceleration. Malawi has a beautiful landscape and friendly population, so it is a natural choice for holidaymakers. However, one avenue that has perhaps not been exploited as much as it could have been, is the casino trade. Here is how this sector could boost tourism to Malawi, providing additional income for residents.
Popularity of Casinos in Africa's Main Inbound Tourist Countries
As a continent, Africa's main source of tourism comes from Europe, closely followed by the US. In both of these areas, online casinos are already popular, with plenty of sites that offer the chance to play online blackjack, as well as poker and slots from the comfort of your home. Similarly, both areas have well-developed bricks and mortar casinos that generate huge revenue for their respective countries. The opportunity to open casinos to cater both for tourists and locals in Malawi could reasonably be expected to generate a valuable income for the country.
Becoming a Casino Destination
Las Vegas was undoubtedly the first city to truly become known for its casino culture. It attracts almost 50 million tourists each year, in no small part thanks to its huge hotel & casino resorts which cater to all the needs of visitors. Seeing this success, a few cities have followed suit, including Tangier, Monte-Carlo, Baden-Baden, and several throughout Singapore.
Though perhaps the largest success has been Macau in China. Located in the South China Sea, this island is perfectly equipped for tourists. Well connected to the mainland, but with beautiful scenery all of its own, Macau has flourished since the addition of several large casinos. The Casino Lisboa and Grand Macau bring millions of tourists each year and local citizens enjoy the benefits too, with 15% of locals working in the industry.
Looking to Lilongwe for Inspiration
One of the pioneers of the casino industry in Malawi has been Lilongwe, our capital city. Lilongwe was already popular with tourists for the fantastic wildlife sanctuary at the heart of the city. However, the ability to diversify was recognized by the Casino Marina group back in 2016. Now the Casino Marina Lilongwe is a major tourist destination in Lilongwe, offering table games and slot machines to enthusiastic customers. The casino sits on the prestigious Golden Peacock Hotel sight, surrounded by beautifully manicured gardens. The experience is certainly a luxury one, that should be celebrated for the industry it has brought to the area. Following in its footsteps, two further casinos have opened, which each report a healthy income each year.
Other Suitable Casino Locations.
Already Lilongwe is home to 3 large casinos, but there is potential both in the capital to open more, or even make a nearby destination town. The Minister of Trade, Industry and Tourism has said that if controlled and nurtured carefully, the benefits of a casino industry could be vast. By the end of this year, the government has hopes to increase this figure from four percent to thirteen percent. This mission could not only create thousands of jobs for Malawians, but could also improve the country's financial standing.
Another city that could well be an emerging casino centre is Blantyre. This city is already home to two successful casinos, the Blue Elephant and the Colony Club Casino. As the centre for finance and commerce, Blantyre is already home to many hotels suitable for business travellers, so would be well equipped to deal with a boost in tourism numbers.
It is located close to the Chileka International Airport, so the travel infrastructure would not be an issue. Further to this, the area already has a number of distinctive features that would appeal to tourists, including the characteristic architecture of the area, as well as the magnificent Mount Soche
Source: Nyasatimes