Thursday, August 5, 2021

BOTSWANA’S UNRELIABLE AIRLINES KILLING LOCAL TOURISM – REPORT

Unreliable airlines and poor roads are making it difficult for Botswana to attract tourists – the biennial Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report for 2019 released, by the World Economic Forum (WEF) has revealed.

According to the report, Botswana has dropped in overall rankings from 85th in 2017 to 92nd this year (2019).  This is out of a total of 140 countries studied. The Botswana Quality score remained the same at 3.5 out of 7; meaning the rest of the world has improved their scores somewhat, whilst Botswana remained stagnant. Botswana experienced the largest decline in the Sub-Saharan Region, dropping seven places, partly due to a worsened Enabling Environment, which is ranked 99th from a previous 83rd in 2017; and Infrastructure, which has also dropped from 89th in 2017 to the current 99th.

According to the report, Botswana has in place, a Policy Environment relatively conducive for business. It is ranked 34th in this category. The country still benefits from its excellent Price Competitiveness, where it is ranked 14th. Among the aspects Price Competitiveness takes into account are, airfare ticket taxes and airport charges; hotel accommodation;  cost of living indicators such as purchasing power parity and fuel price costs; which directly influence the cost of travel and tourism.

Botswana is considered among the best countries with Natural Resources, ranked 47th, a slight improvement from 50th in 2017.  The country has a competitive edge in attracting tourists with the inclusion of the Okavango Delta and Tsodilo Hills in the UNESCO natural World Heritage Sites giving it further advantage.  Linked to the Natural Resources is the country’s ability to sustain the environment.  Botswana is ranked 58th in Environmental Sustainability, mainly due to availability of policies and factors enhancing Environmental Sustainability. The country has prioritized tourism as one of the major sectors for economic diversification, and is ranked at 61st in this area, an improvement from 70th in 2017.

The country continues to struggle, in the area of infrastructure development. Air Transport Infrastructure rating has declined and remains very low at 103rd as compared to 88th in 2017. Air

connectivity which is essential for travelers’ ease of access to and from countries, as well as movement within many countries is still a challenge in Botswana. The Ground Infrastructure rating has also worsened to 100th compared 89th in 2017.

The country also faces challenges with Human Resources and Labor Market issues.  It’s ranking at 92nd (a drop from 2017 at 72nd), shows that the country has a long way to go in developing and utilizing relevant skills. The country’s worst ranking is in the category of International Openness, at 121st, having dropped from a previous 118th. International Openness includes bilateral air service agreements, which impacts the availability of air connections to the country; the number of regional trade agreements in force, indicating the extent to which the country is open to regional trade; and visa requirements, which the Government has been working had to have eased.

Other areas where the country has drooped in rankings include ICT Readiness and Health and Hygiene.

Sub-Saharan Africa has improved since the 2017 edition of the report, but the region still ranks at the bottom of the global Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index (TTCI); lagging behind the rest of the world across most pillars, with only Mauritius, South Africa and the Seychelles scoring above the global average on the index. The region however continues to outpace the global average in numbers of international tourism arrivals and receipts growth.

The top 10 TTCI scorers remain the same.  Spain is the top performer for the third consecutive reporting period, while the United Kingdom’s slight decline in competitiveness has led to it being overtaken by the United States.  The top 10 ranked, from the highest are; Spain, France, Germany, Japan, the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Italy, Canada and Switzerland.

For over a decade the WEF has engaged leaders in the travel and tourism sector to carry out in-depth analysis of the travel and tourism (T&T) competitiveness.  Published biennially, Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report and Index benchmarks the T&T competitiveness of 140 economies and measures the set of factors and policies that enable the sustainable development of the T&T sector, which in turn, contributes to the development and competitiveness of a country.

The Botswana National Productivity Centre (BNPC) is a local partner of the WEF and collects data in this regard, as well as undertaking further studies on national competitiveness. According to a press statement from BNPC, the parastatal “will in the coming months, be further internalizing the report with a view to engaging and be assisting the Government and all key stakeholders with enhanced analysis and recommendations for targeted interventions.”

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