The CEO Hospitability and Tourism Association HATAB Lily Rakorong says for the tourism sector in Botswana to grow, the country must harmonise its policies in the sector, insisting that the existing policies were impeding growth. Rakorong charged at a stakeholders meeting in Maun on Wednesday that Botswana continues to operate on an outdated tourism policy of 1990. She lamented that the country has failed to implement the national tourism strategy of 2000. “These policies are an impediment to the growth of the sector,” she said, adding that the tourism sector has many opportunities but the country has only developed only one product - wildlife and the wilderness. “There are abundance opportunities in this sector but the country is lack behind in improving it,” she said. Rakorong listed challenges such as lack of tourism data which are making it difficult to determine the contribution and growth of the sector. She said that the last data on the contribution of tourism to the GDP wealth creation was 2010 and lamented the conflicting data from authorities regarding its contribution to the economy.
She also attacked Botswana Tourism Organisation (BTO) for having failed to fulfil their mandate. She noted that BTO’s mandate is to market and promote Botswana as a premier destination of choice but they have failed. Rakorong noted that the transport sector is a critical in the growth of the tourism in the country and challenged Government to improve the state of the roads. The chairman of Botswana Guides Association (BOGA) Kenson Kgaga complained that tourism policies continue to disempower locals from thriving in the sector as it favours foreigners. Kgaga said that Batswana who are in the tourism industry are struggling as the policies favour established companies from other countries. He decried that it is not easy for Batswana to venture into tourism business because of the high standards that are set by BTO. A Maun businessman John Willeo, who runs a business in the hospitality industry, also decried that BTO has set high standard in the tourism sector. “BTO has set standards for first world countries in a third world country and this is the impediment to the growth of the country,” he charged.