Saturday, July 2, 2022

BOCCIM scolds bureaucratic red tape impeding tourism

The Botswana Confederation of Commerce and Industry and Manpower (BOCCIM) has revealed that the request for certified documents weighs down on the business community.

This revelation was made by the President of BOCCIM, Alex Monchusi, at the opening of the annual Hospitality and Tourism Association of Botswana (HATAB) conference in Kasane on Saturday.

“Every year tour operators have to compile the same set of information and move from one government office to the other, “certifying” it all over again in the name of compliance,” said Monchusi. He said this is expensive and raises the costs of doing business, especially for businesses based in remote areas.

“Have we ever wondered the costs we impose on a tour operator who is based deep in the Delta, but has to drive to Maun just to certify and submit the same set of information year in and year out? Surely this is red tape that we as a country can do without,” said the BOCCIM President.

He thus called for the removal of bureaucratic red tape and simplify the country’s regulatory climate so that tourism operators spend more time on business opportunities rather than government compliance.

“A tour operators’ time is at its most optimal use when it is expended on customers, shareholders, business allies, suppliers and employees,” he said.

Monchusi also called on the tourism sector to continue maintaining a world class offering, so that Botswana continues to be a preferred tourist destination in a highly competitive global market.

According to Monchusi, the industry is well stratified thus allowing involvement of businesses and operators at different levels of investment and sophistication.

He also emphasized close cooperation between the stakeholders in the industry, in particular for government to continue listening to the concerns of the sector and working hard at making it easier for businesses to operate in this sector of the economy.

“Tourism is a very fragile environment to operate in, but if properly managed with close cooperation between stakeholders, it is a sustainable industry that can be exploited in perpetuity as a resource and source of livelihood. They say ‘diamonds are forever’ – I would suggest that ‘Tourism is forever’,” said Monchusi.

He also said the importance of tourism to Botswana’s goals of economic diversification, rapid economic growth, employment, skills development and wealth creation cannot be overemphasized.
Monchusi added that already, tourism is a thriving industry that contributes significantly to the economy.

Monchusi noted that Botswana is among the top 10 destinations for adventure tourism in the developing world according to the Adventure Tourism Development Index.

Touching on a topical issue, Monchusi said it is crucial to allow electronic applications and payment for all business licenses; it should apply to trade licenses, tourism licenses, bed levy, training levy, tax returns, tax payment and vehicle license.

Monchusi warned that the issuance of work and residence permits to expatriates should, therefore, not be carried out in a manner that impedes the performance of the tourism industry. He stated that tourism and other sectors of the economy still require the importation of skills.

“Global competitiveness is not about governments competing against each other. It is therefore necessary for our government to empower and facilitate its private sector as much as it can, to make it easier to do business here, than in other countries which would in turn attract multinationals and grow the private sector,” said Monchusi.


Read this week's paper