The tourism sector in Botswana has the potential to help diversify the economy of the country which is reliant on minerals especially diamonds. Currently tourism makes a relatively small portion of Botswana’s GDP, despite its extreme importance to the country’s growth.
According to the statics compiled by Botswana Tourism Organisation, the country is only able to retain 10% of revenue generated by tourism while the rest is enjoyed by other countries especially South Africa where most tourists do their bookings and payments.
In an interview with the Patriot on Sunday, Minister of Wildlife and Tourism Tshekedi Seretse admitted that he is aware of that challenge.
To militate against that Tshekedi revealed that they are compiling reports on all the tourism establishments that are operating in Botswana and doing their bookings in foreign countries and ensure that the system is stopped.
“We are going to put some stern measures and not allow that kind of arrangement to happen because as a country we are losing a lot of revenue to other countries,” said Khama.
Another challenge that is facing most Batswana is that they cannot afford to visit some tourist destinations in Botswana especially the world famous Okavango delta and Chobe area due to hefty prices at hotels and lodges and Tshekedi said they are doing something to correct that.
BTO is working on a plan to build a family styled hotel in the Okavango area which will mainly cater for citizens and be affordable, said the Minister of Wildlife and Tourism.
Tshekedi revealed that his ministry is currently collecting data on tourism plots owned by Batswana and not developed in order to look for investors for them.
In order to give Batswana more roles to play in the tourism sector, Tshekedi revealed that they have identified four campsites with Kgalagadi Trans frontier Park which will be allocated to citizens and 10 within the wildlife management areas.
A collaborative research work paper conducted by three international partners, the African Development Bank (AFDB), the OECD Development Centre and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) has found out Botswana’s tourism is mainly on wildlife and urged the country to diversify it into other forms of tourism like culture.
“We have approached the villages of Sankoyo and Mababe and others to transform their villages into cultural tourism in order to give tourists another product which is currently lacking,” said Tshekedi.
Tshekedi observed that though the country has the statue of three chiefs at the CBD, only Khama III’s burial site is known and most people have visited it, something which he said is worrisome looking at the other two chiefs.
“They too must be given prominence and their resting places being taken care of and am talking with the staff at my ministry to engage the morafe of Bakwena and Bangwetse so that Sebele and Bathoen be given the honor they deserve,” said Tshekedi who is the great grandson to Khama III.
The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) report on the economic impact of tourism in Botswana in 2014 has shown that the direct contribution of travel and tourism to GDP was P5, 486.6 million which was 3.2 percent of total GDP last year.
In 2013 travel and tourism directly supported 31,000 jobs, 4.6 percent of total employment and this is expected to rise by 2.5 percent in 2014 to 41,000 jobs.