Lilongwe, The Best Buy Malawi campaign has gone into the hotel industry in the country with Sunbird among the pioneers.
Established in 1958, Sunbird Lilongwe Hotel has pioneered the offering of Malawi cuisine to its customers as one way of promoting Malawi tradition and culture.
The Hotel’s Food and Beverage Manager, Sylvester Chauluka, said in an interview with Malawi News Agency (Mana) that the oldest hotel in the Capital City offers local cuisine to its customers twice a week.
‘We had an outcry for tradition dishes from our customers and management designated Thursdays and Fridays as local cuisine days in response to the people’s demand, Chauluka said.
He said Friday coincided with the Presidential Order for Malawi traditional attire day.
Chauluka added that he was delighted to see a very positive response not only from the Hotels’ local customers but international customers as well.
Although the local cuisine originally targeted locals, the conference clientele love it very much including those from African countries who say they enjoy our traditional food, explained the Food and Beverage Manager.
However, he said the locals’ patronage on the special days was not as the hotel expected attributing it to low income levels among most Malawians which restricts them from eating out.
Random interviews with some of the Hotel’s patrons indicated that eating out at the Hotel on the special day was more than fun.
One patron, Sautso Mbendera, said he loved the local cuisine and that he had always appreciated when conferences were held on the days local dishes were served.
Mbendera, a Civil Servant who works for the Department of Irrigation, said he would like to bring his family to eat out to appreciate the local cuisine on the menu on the special days.
Taona Chigwenembe, an employee for Chamber of Commerce in Lilongwe concurred with Mbendera saying; local dishes identify Malawi as a nation, and that she would like to take her family out to the Lilongwe Sunbird Hotel on the special days.
I find a wider variety of local foods at the hotel than at home hence I sometimes take my family out to eat the local cuisine. This does not only promote Malawian culture but it also identifies us as a people, she said.
An American visitor, Emily Davis, who had just stayed in the country for two days and she had tasted Nsima, said she loved Malawi food and that she would one day bring her family to have a taste of Malawian cuisine.
A visit to Sunbird Livingstonia Beach in Salima and Sunbird Mount Soche in Blantyre also revealed similar trend on Thursdays and Fridays.
Commenting on the initiative in an interview with Mana, Director of Tourism in the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Tourism, Isaac Katopola, said Tourism was largely about everything local.
Katopola said serving of traditional foods would attract local, regional and international visitors into the country and that it would also promote locally produced food items.
This will lessen unnecessary food importation which depletes the much needed foreign exchange, said Katopola.
The Director of Tourism encouraged all hospitality units in the country to add and serve well prepared local foods to their customers just like the Sunbird Hotels were doing.
Source: Malawi News Agency � MANA