Sustainable tourism in Mulanje
Mount Mulanje Conservation Trust
The Mount Mulanje Forest Reserve in the South of Malawi was recognized as a nature reserve in 1927. Mount Mulanje Conservation Trust (MMCT) was established in 2005 with the support of the World Bank and the Global Environment Facility. MMCT manages the area as a Biosphere Reserve. The conservation efforts focus on:
- Protecting, researching and monitoring biodiversity
- Forest management and creating sustainable economic opportunities for the local population
- Environmental education and communication
The biggest challenge for the sustainable management of the area is to reconcile ecological and economic needs. The local population lives primarily from small-scale agriculture and illegal logging remains an attractive way to earn an income. Therefore, MMCT seeks to find win-win situations: protecting endangered eco-systems while taking into account the needs of the people who are economically dependent on these eco-systems.
Aiming at eco-tourists
Mulanje and in particular its highest peak (Sapitwa Peak 3002m) is an attractive area for adventurous tourists who enjoy hiking, trekking, mountaineering and mountainbiking. However, the tourism sector is barely developed. In a very poor area with few economic opportunities, strengthening the tourism potential can be an engine for development. Of course it is crucial to work on a tourism strategy which is also sustainable. The goal is not to attract mass tourism but attracting tourists who respect and promote the ecological value of the area.
Guided and coached by Frank Cuypers, senior strategist destination marketing at Destination Think !, MMCT is working on the development of a sustainable and inclusive tourism strategy for Mulanje.
Strategy building for and by the community
A good strategy is not merely a paper document. A good strategy induces implementation and provides a framework for shaping activities and action. Ownership of all stakeholders is crucial to successfully develop and apply any strategy. For Mulanje, the commitment of the local communities is essential.
That is why the growth programme includes a pilot phase, focusing on ownership. Through community hearings, co-creation and storytelling local communities and their leaders shape and inspire the future plans. This pilot process will ensure the development of realistic tourism strategy for Mulanje in the next phase. A strategy that is inclusive and sustainable and encourages action!