MAUN – Two state owned enterprises, Brand Botswana and Botswana Tourism Organization have been bashed for underselling Botswana.
Speaking at this years’ Hospitality and Tourism Association of Botswana (HATAB) in Maun on Friday, Charles Ndabeni,Chairman of The Definition, a South African based organisation, said Botswana deserves to be the Conferencing destination of Southern Africa.
Ndabeni is of the view that tourism can grow only when allowing Africans to participate, in Botswana for instance, the communities should also be involved in promoting their heritages and culture.
“What kind of tourism promotion are you doing if your own people have never seen the Okavango Delta? We can only grow tourism by allowing Africans to participate. Animals should NOT be more important than the people of Africa. Any tourism that is not based on heritage, history and culture is FAKE. From the outside, we really envy Botswana,” said Ndabeni. .
He also went onto urge the government to empower the private to thrive in tourism. “These state owned enterprises just waste our money. All they do is attend workshops. go to meetings and travel abroad to benchmark. When they come back they go on leave. Let us have leaders who are not lazy, corrupt and are visionary.”
As opposed to SOEs, private companies are profit oriented and they deliver because they have investors to answer to. Ndabeni said with SOEs, 80 percent of their budgets is targeted at administration, which he said does not make sense.
Similarly, HATAB chairman Dr Thapelo Matsheka who just got re-elected this past Thursday, also called on the government to create an environment where the private sector can get the sense of ownership nd development of the industry.
Dr Matsheka expressed that it is so disheartening for the government to drag in implementing appropriate strategies and policies, but have enough time to host international airshows, the Makgadikgadi shows amongst the few. These events the private sector emphasizes it should be the one hosting and running these events, other than the government.
According to Dr Matsheka, “there should be a collaboration that facilitates private sector participation instead of government occupying the private sector space.”
The association chairman also expressed his displeasure on lack of participation by BTO at international markets events, which he said it is critical to be visible in these events to market Botswana.
Responding to the remarks, BTO Public Relations and Communications Manager, Keitumetse Setlang told Sunday Standard that marketing is a continuous process. Therefore, “as BTO we appreciate that we may not have done much as expected, but more needs to be done. We cannot afford to be in all international events that sell tourism but we will continue to do more in selling our products.”
Since 2015, Botswana has recorded 1,6million in tourism arrivals which Setlang said these are results of their marketing.
BTO last year sponsored the ITB in Berlin in which Botswana according to BTO was featured in all travel professionals.
It is also understood that the Ministry of Natural Resources and Wildlife Tourism has withdrawn its membership from the RETOSA body without prior consultation with the stakeholders. It is not yet clear whether it was a spiteful or a thought out decision to withdraw from the SADC body.
For his part, the Deputy PS, Felix Monggae admitted that withdrawing from RETOSA was sudden. “Withdrawing from RETOSA was not spiteful, but we wanted to allow private sector to take lead”.