Thursday, June 13, 2024

Almost one in ten lost jobs in tourism sector due to Covid-19

The Minister of Environment and Tourism Philda Kereng has told Parliament that a survey by Botswana Tourism Organisation (BTO) estimated that 8.1 per cent of staff employed in the tourism facilities were laid- off in April 2020.

She said the retained staff were on varying conditions of employment from paid and unpaid leave as well as reduced wages.

Kereng said a Covid-19 impact monitoring survey undertaken by BTO in December 2021 showed that on average, each tourism facility was operating with 44.6 per cent of the Pre-COVID-19 staff during the period of the survey.

“The survey results show that an estimated total of 13,085 people were employed at the same facilities, 279 were laid-off, which translates to 2.1 per cent employment loss,” she said. 

Kereng added that: “This is comparable with 1.6 per cent (433) employment loss among the accommodation and food services sector registered by Statistics Botswana between quarter four of 2020 and quarter four of 2021.” 

She said the latest results of the Quarterly Multi- Topic Survey (QMTS) conducted by Statistics Botswana show that employment in the accommodation and food services sector increased from 26,086 in quarter four of 2021 to 30,955 in quarter four of 2022 depicting an increase of 18.6 per cent in employment. 

Kereng said several initiatives were put in place also include the preservation of job via the wage subsidies from Government and other support packages. as part of the recovery strategy, the ministry continues to facilitate the tourism industry in participating at the different travel trade fairs, where travel packages are sold. 

“These plat forms allow the industry to re kindle with Pre-COVID business partners in order to re-confirm that they are still in operation, as well as to establish new business partners and is working well,” she said. 

Kereng said her ministry has also embarked on specific targeted marketing campaigns to enhance the destination’s presence in the markets, to regain and exceed pre- pandemic performance, thus showing the world that Botswana is open for business. 

She said the promotion of domestic tourism is one of the key interventions that the ministry has identified to facilitate resilience and sustainability against future threats and disruptions such as those caused by COVID-19. 

“The aim is to sustain and aid recovery of the sector through domestic patronage when global travel restrictions could be imposed. To this end, my ministry has partnered with the local industry to work on packages that are suitable and affordable to the domestic market,” she said. 

She added that: “We also continue to hold various events including sporting events, Kazungula Bridge Marathon, Botswana Travel and Tourism Expo (BTTE), Khawa Dune Challenge and Makgadikgadi Epic and also supporting Batswana who have started venturing into such events.” 

Kereng said the key responsibility under the National Transformation Agenda is to drive citizen economic empowerment in the tourism sector and we continue to explore through the strategy and action plan that we are going to start implementing to expand opportunities, including opening sites around the dams and other interventions.

On a related issue, Kereng said the processes for preparation of Tourism Policy, Tourism Master Plan and Strategy were started in 2019 but got disrupted by Covid-19.

“ Following this, in 2022, the processes were resumed and while looking into the future, it has identified several focus areas to aid the recovery of the tourism sector,” she said. 

These, she said,  include amongst others;(a) Tourism Product Development and Diversification in the form of business tourism (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions), resuscitation of sports and adventure tourism, mining tourism, game ranching/farming, historical and cultural tourism.

Kereng said the citizen Inclusion in the tourism sector, thus making the sector more accessible to locals through value chain development as well as reserving curtain investment opportunities for Batswana.

She said the tourism industry was one of the hard-hit sectors in the country and globally due to the impacts of Covid-19 pandemic. The Tourism Arrival Statistics Report of 2020 shows that Botswana had recorded over eighty-one per cent (81.3 per cent) decline in visitor arrival during Covid-19 from 1,911,308 in 2019 to 358,225 during the peak of Covid-19 in 2020.

Kereng was responding to Lobatse legislator Thapelo Matsheka who sought to know among others; Tourism Product Development and Diversification in the form of business tourism (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions), resuscitation of sports and adventure tourism, mining tourism, game ranching/farming, historical and cultural tourism.

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