Challenges to Tourism Development in Sub-Saharan Africa. A Case of Malawi

  • Mathews LAMBULIRA Department of Tourism, Mzuzu University, Malawi
  • Felix G. BELLO Department of Marketing Management University of Pretoria, South Africa


Many countries around the world continue to consider or adopt tourism primarily for the economic benefits associated with it. However, developing tourism has been a difficult aspiration for developing countries as they face significant barriers. This paper examines the challenges to tourism development and their causative factors in Malawi. In-depth interviews were used to collect primary data. Inadequate connectivity between source markets and Malawi, as well as inside the country, underdeveloped tourist destinations and limited access to tourist information emerged as the main barriers to Malawi's tourism development. It was further revealed that underfunding, the centralized management structure of the tourism industry, lack of stakeholder collaboration, and an unfriendly business operating environment contribute to Malawi's tourism development challenges. It is recommended that the government and other key tourism stakeholders should prioritise the identified causative areas and among other things decentralise tourism administration and improve tourism statistics collection and analysis. There is also a need to strengthen stakeholder collaboration and networking.


[1] Adu-Ampong, E. A. 2017. Divided we stand: Institutional collaboration in tourism planning and development in the Central Region of Ghana. Current Issues in Tourism, 20(3): 295-314. DOI:
[2] Altinay, L., Paraskevas, A., and Jang, S. S. 2015. Planning research in hospitality and tourism. London: Routledge.
[3] Amuquandoh, F. E. 2010. Residents' perceptions of the environmental impacts of tourism in the Lake Bosomtwe Basin, Ghana. Journal of sustainable tourism, 18(2): 223-238. DOI:
[4] Anderson, W. 2011. Challenges of tourism development in the developing countries: the case of Tanzania. Journal of Tourism, 12(2): 17-36.
[5] Andrades, L. and Dimanche, F. 2017. Destination competitiveness and tourism development in Russia: Issues and challenges. Tourism management, 62: 360-376. DOI:
[6] Andriotis, K. 2018. Degrowth in tourism: Conceptual, theoretical and philosophical issues. Oxfordshire: Cabi
[7] Ankomah, P. K. and Crompton, J. L. 1990. Unrealized tourism potential: The case of sub-Saharan Africa. Tourism Management, 11(1): 11-28. DOI:
[8] Babbie, E. R. 2021. The practice of social research. Boston: Cengage Learning.
[9] Butler, R. 2004. The tourism area life cycle in the twenty-first century. In A. A. Lew, C. M. Hall & A. M. Williams (ed.), A companion to tourism (pp. 159 – 169). Oxford: Blackwell Publishing
[10] Christie, I.T. 2002. Tourism, growth and poverty: Framework conditions for tourism in developing countries. Tourism Review, 57(1/2): 35-41. DOI:
[11] Cleverdon, R. G. 2002. Tourism development in the SADC region: the opportunities and challenges. Development Southern Africa, 19(1): 7-28. DOI:
[12] Crouch, G. I., and Ritchie, J. B. 1999. Tourism, competitiveness, and societal prosperity. Journal of business research, 44(3): 137-152. DOI:
[13] Doggett, A. M. 2005. Root Cause Analysis: A Framework for Tool Selection. Quality Management Journal, 12(4): 34 – 45. DOI:
[14] Ekanayake, E. M. and Long, A. E. 2012. Tourism development and economic growth in developing countries. The International Journal of Business and Finance Research, 6(1): 61-63. SSRN:
[15] Folarin, O. and Adeniyi, O. 2020. Does Tourism Reduce Poverty in Sub-Saharan African Countries? Journal of Travel Research, 59(1): 140–155. DOI:
[16] Frenț, C. and Frechtling, D. C. 2022. Regional tourism satellite accounts: towards international comparability. Tourism Review, 77(1): 97 - 112. DOI:
[17] Gangidi, P. 2019. A systematic approach to root cause analysis using 3 × 5 why’s technique. International Journal of Lean Six Sigma, 10(1): 295-310. DOI:
[18] Guest, G., MacQueen, K., and Namey, E. E. 2012. Applied thematic analysis. DOI:
[19] Heinz, S., and O’Connell, J. F. 2017. The evolution of African airline business models. In K. Button, G. Martini, & D. Scotti (ed.), The economics and political economy of African air transport. London: Routledge.
[20] Hoogendoorn, G. and Rogerson, C. M. 2016. New perspectives on Southern African tourism research. Tourism: An International Interdisciplinary Journal, 64(4): 355-357.
[21] Jenkins, C.L 1980. Tourism policies in developing countries: a critique. International Journal of Tourism Management, 1(1): 22 – 29. DOI:
[22] Jones, C., and Munday, M. 2008. Tourism satellite accounts and impact assessments: some considerations. Tourism Analysis, 13(1): 53-69. DOI:
[23] Kimbu, A. N., and Ngoasong, M. Z. 2013. Centralised decentralisation of tourism development: A network perspective. Annals of Tourism Research, 40: 235-259. DOI:
[24] Krstic, B., Jovanovic, S., Jankovic-milic, V. and Stanisic, T. 2016. Examination of travel and tourism competitiveness contribution to national economy competitiveness of sub-Saharan Africa countries. Development Southern Africa. 33: 1-16. DOI:
[25] Leiper, N. 1979. The framework of tourism: Towards a definition of tourism, tourist, and the tourist industry. Annals of Tourism Research, 6(4): 390–407. DOI:
[26] Lyu, S. O., and Lee, H. 2015. Preferences for tourist information centres in the ubiquitous information environment. Current Issues in Tourism, 18(11): 1032-1047. DOI:
[27] Majanga, B. 2015. An analysis of bottlenecks to SME growth in developing countries: A case of Malawi. European Journal of Business and Management, 7(24): 176 – 185. SSRN:
[28] Marzuki, A. 2009. Impacts of tourism development. Anatolia, 20(2): 450-455. DOI:
[29] Matidza, I., Ping, T. and Nyasulu, C. 2020. Use of digital marketing in estate agency industry in Malawi. E-Learning and Digital Media, 17(3): 253-270. DOI:
[30] Mhlanga, O. 2017. Impacts of deregulation on the airline industry in South Africa: a review of the literature. African Journal of Hospitality, Tourism and Leisure, 6(3): 1–14. Available at:
[31] Moswete, N. and Darley, W. 2012. Tourism survey research in sub-Saharan Africa: problems and challenges. Current Issues in Tourism, 15(4): 369-383. DOI:
[32] Muhanna, E. 2007. Tourism development strategies and poverty Elimination. Problems and Perspectives in Management, 5(1): 37 – 49.
[33] Nunkoo, R. 2015. Tourism and hospitality development in African economies: Perspectives and challenges. Development Southern Africa, 32(3): 275-276. DOI:
[34] Pearce, P. L. and Burke, A. 2003. The role of visitor centres in emerging Asia Pacific tourism destinations: concepts and research contributions for best practice. In Proceedings of the 9th Annual Conference of the Asia Pacific Tourism Association (pp. 525-536). Sydney, Australia.
[35] Pigliaru, F. and Lanza, A. 1999. Why are Tourism Countries Small and Fast-Growing? DOI:
[36] Pulido-Fernandez, J. I., Cárdenas-García, P. J., and Sanchez-Rivero, M. 2014. Tourism as a tool for economic development in poor countries. Tourism: An International Interdisciplinary Journal, 62(3): 309-322. Available at:
[37] Ritchie, J. B. and Crouch, G. I. 2003. The competitive destination: A sustainable tourism perspective. Oxfordshire: Cabi.
[38] Rylance, A. and Spenceley, A. 2017. Reducing economic leakages from tourism: A value chain assessment of the tourism industry in Kasane, Botswana. Development Southern Africa, 34: 295 - 313. DOI:
[39] Sánchez, J., Callarisa, L., Rodriguez, R. M., and Moliner, M. A. 2006. Perceived value of the purchase of a tourism product. Tourism management, 27(3): 394-409. DOI:
[40] Sedarati, P., Santos, S., and Pintassilgo, P. 2019. System dynamics in tourism planning and development. Tourism Planning & Development, 16(3): 256-280. DOI:
[41] Sequeira, T. N. and Maçãs Nunes, P. 2008. Does tourism influence economic growth? A dynamic panel data approach. Applied Economics, 40(18): 2431-2441. DOI:
[42] Sharpley, R. 2009. Tourism development and the environment: Beyond sustainability? London: Earthscan. DOI:
[43] Smoke, P. 2003. Decentralisation in Africa: goals, dimensions, myths and challenges. Public Administration and Development, 23(1): 7-16. DOI:
[44] Telfer, D. J. and Sharpley, R. 2015. Tourism and development in the developing world. London: Routledge.
[45] Timur, S. and Getz, D. 2008. A network perspective on managing stakeholders for sustainable urban tourism. International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, 20(4): 445–461. DOI:
[46] Towner, N. 2018. Surfing tourism and local stakeholder collaboration. Journal of Ecotourism, 17(3): 268-286. DOI:
[47] Wamboye, E. F., Nyaronga, P. J. and Sergi, B. S. 2020. What are the determinants of international tourism in Tanzania? World Development Perspectives, 17. DOI:
[48] United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) 2019. International Tourism Highlights, 2019 Edition. Madrid: UNWTO. DOI:
[49] WTTC 2021. Malawi 2021 Annual Research: Key Highlights. Available at:
How to Cite
LAMBULIRA, Mathews; BELLO, Felix G.. Challenges to Tourism Development in Sub-Saharan Africa. A Case of Malawi. Journal of Environmental Management and Tourism, [S.l.], v. 13, n. 2, p. 391 - 402, apr. 2022. ISSN 2068-7729. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 18 may 2022. doi: