Thursday, July 9, 2020

Botswana unmoved as Survival International urges tourists to boycott Botswana

Survival International (SI), the human rights campaigner, has urged international tourists to boycott travelling to Botswana as the country ill-treats Basarwa, who are the first inhabitants of the diamond rich country.
If the campaign succeeds, it will hit hard the sector which contributes P3 billion to economy and the second contributor to the country’s GDP after mining.
SI said the campaign to urge tour operators around the world to suspend trips to Botswana is a result of “disgraceful treatment of Bushmen in Africa”.
Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said they have written to tour operators such as Trailfinders, Intrepid and Absolute Travelers to achieve their aim.
Besides urging tour operators to suspend trips to Botswana the organisation Director says that they are intending to urge their 100,000 supporters to join the boycott by writing to the Minister of Environment , Wildlife and Tourism telling him “ I am not coming to Botswana till harassment of Bushmen stops”.
It is particularly galling to Bushmen’s supporters that Botswana President Ian Khama Seretse Khama is lauded by tourism industry when his treatment of Bushmen has been described as illegal , inhuman and degrading .” Khama’s vindictive and cruel campaign is pushing the last hunting Bushmen to brink of survival”.
SI message to all conscientious travelers the statement says is “Holiday somewhere till this horrific abuse ends”. SI has been at the forefront of numerous legal battles by the Bushmen against government‘s removal of Bushmen from the CKGR.
The Bushmen won the last battle after which they complained that the government was not respecting Court orders that had ordered that they can stay in the reserve as they were required to get permits in order to enter the game reserve.
However, Botswana Government spokes person Dr Jeff Ramsay says that he has no doubt that efforts by Survival International to discourage tour operators from bringing tourists to Botswana will fail as has happened in the past.
“ I have no doubt that their campaign will fail just as has happened over the past 12 years they have been holding such campaigns on the dates of Tourism Day commemoration”, he said.
Ramsay also said that there is no doubt that tourists will continue coming to the country to see its beauty despite their campaigns which are not helpful to anyone.
Chris McIntyre, who runs the tour operator Expert Africa and is author of the latest Bradt guidebook to Botswana, was quoted in The UK Telegraph saying both the country’s government and Survival International had adopted an “unhelpful” approach at times.
“Over the years neither of them seems able to help reach a really fair and pragmatic solution which will help the day-to-day life of the poor people involved,” he said. “It’s a real failure for both.”

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Sunday Standard July 5 – 11

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of July 5 - 11, 2020.