Over the last twenty years, focus has been on international tourism marketing with little regard on the impacts of the domestic market.1 Growth Accelerator saw an opportunity to work with local tourism entrepreneurs that have innovative ideas, products and services that will amplify local tourist destinations. Pakachere Lodge and Creative Centre is one such ventures that promoted Zomba City as a tourist destination for local people through the Zomba City Festival. With support from Growth Accelerator Malawi Pakachere is re-branding as a business that embodies the spirit of Zomba championing tourism, publicity and conservation of Zomba’s nature and history.

View going up the Zomba Mountain on a hiking trail

Zomba City Festival is an annual festival that aims to put Zomba on the map for local and international tourism to promote arts and culture as well as history and the natural vegetation of the city.. Zomba City is a historical destination with breathtaking vegetation and scenery. Zomba City Festival was a collaborative effort of: Pakachere Lodge and Creative Center; Zomba Arts Platform; Zomba Tourism Association; WESM; Lodges in Zomba and Zomba City Council. The festival was a three-day city wide extravaganza hosted in eight different venues and featured activities such as: Musical performances; Mountain Hike; Yoga; Art in the park; Poetry; Coffee Tasting and Book Fairs; E-gaming; Family Fun Days; fashion and theater showcases and a treasure hunt. The event was patronized by locals from several districts such as Blantyre, Mangochi, Lilongwe, NkhataBay to mention a few.

Live painting at Zomba City Festival “Art in the Park” event hosted at the Zomba Botanical Gardens

Pakachere played a significant role in the success of the Zomba City Festival. With support from Growth Accelerator Malawi the lodge and creative centre was able to construct a multipurpose stage and barbecue yard. This made Pakachere the main venue for musical performances. Pakachere also hosted yoga and other recreational activities on the stage. In addition, the center donated office space for the planning team to organize the festival.

Beyond the Zomba City Festival, Pakachere intends to continue using its stage and barbecue area to host various recreational and creative events such as: dance recitals, poetry shows, theater, weddings, yoga and other recreational activities. They hope to use the stage to promote local talent and venue for events in the city. For Pakachere their main motivation to support Zomba City Festival is to: firstly, raise awareness on the conservation efforts to protect Zomba Mountain and its vegetation; secondly, continue to work collaboratively with other businesses in Zomba to promote the city as a tourism destination; and promote art, local talent and Zomba’s history. In the future the Festival plans to lobby for a museum, an education center in the Zomba Botanic Garden; and fine art gallery. They plan to partner with the Chancellor College’s Faculty of Fine and Performing Arts; and continue to promote local talent in Malawi.

Local artist performs at Pakachere Lodge and Creative Center Stage during Zomba City Festival

Growth Accelerator is committed to working with entrepreneurs that have innovative and creative business ventures that promote Malawi. Through the Growth Accelerator Tourism Entrepreneurship Challenge; business owners in tourism have launched various initiatives in Nkhotakota, Dzalanyama, NkhataBay and many more to promote domestic tourism in their local districts. The programme also aims to support value chain revival, employee retention and Eco-tourism through the selected entrepreneurs. With support from UNDP Malawi, kfw German Development Bank and Malawi Department of Tourism – eight other entrepreneurs were supported with up to USD40,000 in financing to promote domestic tourism. To know more about the Growth Accelerator Malawi programme, visit: www.growmalawi.com