The Botswana Government this week said it is closely monitoring the recent worldwide advertising campaign launched by London based Human Rights Organisation Survival International calling for a boycott of tourism to Botswana.
The development follows a spirited worldwide campaign and claims by Survival that the campaign has reached hundreds of thousands of travelers. Survival says it calls for a boycott of travel by tourists to Botswana over alleged persecution of Basarwa by the Botswana Government and industry insiders have conceded that such a call is not good for the country.
Asked if the Government was not worried by reports that over 8000 potential tourists have signed a petition not to visit Botswana, Government’s spokesperson, Dr Jeff Ramsay said that “we continue to monitor the situation.”
Ramsay would not be drawn into discussing measures that the government has put in place to counter the campaign by SI save to say that “We have measures in place.”
Last year the government wrote to stakeholders in the tourism sector when Survival announced its campaign to give them “our side of the story.”
When asked if the Government does not see it fit to take the first step and call Survival ┬áto a negotiation table as part of an effort to resolve differences between the London bases NGO and the Botswana government for the benefit of the country’s image and economy, Ramsay’s reply is an emphatic “no.” ┬á
Survival states in a statement that the advert which is part of the campaign has been published in international travel and lifestyle magazines including Wired, Escapism, Departures and Centurion magazines in France, Italy, Austria, Germany, Japan, and the U.K.
The advert which is part of the campaign reads, “The government use glossy and contrived images of Basarwa to attract tourists ÔÇô but they are using violence, torture and intimidation to deport the Basarwa from their ancestral lands in the country’s largest game reserve… This could mean the end for the last hunting Basarwa in Africa.”
┬á“Over 8,000 people have so far pledged not to visit Botswana until the Basarwa are allowed to live on their land in peace, including celebrities Gillian Anderson, Sir Quentin Blake, Joanna Lumley, Sophie Okonedo, and Mark Rylance,” says the statement.
Survival says its supporters have protested at travel fairs in New York, London, Berlin, Madrid, and Milan and several tourism companies have also joined the boycott.
Survival says Botswana’s President Ian Khama sits on the board of U.S. organization Conservation International and has been widely praised for his conservation work. But a diamond mine is operating in the Bushman’s reserve, and the government has issued permits for diamond and fracking exploration.
Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said, “The Botswana conservation industry promotes tours to supposedly protected zones. Basarwa there are persecuted. Anyone thinking of going on safari should ask themselves whether they really want to play a part in the destruction of the last hunting Basarwa of Africa.”