Botswana will on 01 June 2017 make effective the Tourism Development Levy that will levied to all Non-SADC visitors. The USD30 will accrue an estimated USD 5,7 million at ports of entry. The objective of the Levy is to raise funds for conservation and national tourism development in order to support the growth of the industry and broaden the tourism base, resultantly improving the lives of the people of Botswana. Payments are done at the ports of entry through electronic payment machines through cash (US Dollars), debit and credit card. After the payment, a unique receipt corresponding to the passport will be automatically generated. The receipt should then be presented to Immigration Officials. The passport and the receipt will be stamped and handed back to the traveller. The receipt will valid for a 30 day period and can be used for multiple entries. As a tourism lecturer at the Tshwane University of Technology, I support this levy as it will increase the resources that the government of Botswana has to drive tourism development. The tourism industry is primarily private sector driven whilst the state creates an enabling environment for tourism to growth.
The private sector is not responsible for maintaining the roads, airports and other forms of infrastructure. The creation of an enabling environment requires the state to build the necessary infrastructure and super-structure that will enable tourism to grow such as airports, roads infrastructure, water supply, and electricity that tourism commerce requires in producing the highly sought after tourism experiences. There would be resistance from the private sector, but the private sector must be playing a leading role in working with government, so that the spirit of collaboration wins. The private sector must identify priority investments that should be done by the state, to drive economic growth. Marketing must also be undertaken to ensure that Botswana increases its share of global tourism receipts. South Africa experienced an increase of 13% in tourist arrivals, and Botswana can also achieve this, if the growth trajectory is achieved. The spirit of collaboration between the public and private sector was very evident from Team Botswana that sold Botswana during the Tourism Indaba in Durban. African countries during the year 2017, must ensure they the Single Aviation Market for Africa becomes a reality. Skills development in the tourism industry is imperative, especially foreign language training that will ensure that tourists are responded in their own languages.
The focus of foreign language training is to focus on languages such as French, German and Mandarin, considering that China will produce the greatest number of outbound tourists. The growth of tourism will be supported by aviation, and aviation demands airport infrastructure which is expensive to finance. The growth of airport infrastructure and domestic aviation market regulation can lead to the entry of low cost carriers that would make use of secondary airports. The benefits of secondary airports translate into faster travelling time, benefiting commerce and industry. In addition, the benefit to society is shorted travelling time and stronger social bonds between families and communities. The entry of low cost carriers, means that domestic tourism will enter a new growth trajectory. The attraction of flying schools to Botswana would be necessary, considering that South Africa cannot be dependent on. The Chinese are buying out privately owned flying schools, to supply exclusively the Chinese aviation market that is growing around 100%. These are other pressing investments that the private sector needs for tourism to grow, and the spirit of collaboration must triumph between the public and private sector.
Unathi Sonwabile Henama teaches tourism at the Tshwane University of Technology and writes in his personal capacity.