What do policymakers in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) need to do to attract more international tourists as countries across the globe open up their economies?
Chobe Holdings – a Botswana Stock Exchange quoted outfit, which operates some of Botswana’s luxurious tourism facilities up north, says the start of point is ‘testing’. The group says as the tourism industry in the country prepares to receive international tourists it is essential that health authorities in Botswana engage with their counterparts in neighbouring states to create common standards of testing that are acceptable to both countries and to the travelling public.
Botswana last week announced that has taken a decision to allow international tourists at two of its international airports – Maun and Kasane with effect from November 2020.
The two urban-villages where the international airports are located also serve as the gateway to the country’s tourism hotspots – The Okavango Delta, Moremi Game Reserve and Chobe National Park amongst others.
In a statement released late Monday, the Ministry responsible for Tourism confirmed the latest development.
“The Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism is pleased to inform members of the public and the international community that Botswana is ready to receive private charter flights from 1st November 2020. The private charter flights will be allowed at two ports of entry namely, Maun and Kasane International Airports”, reads part of the Tourism ministry statement.
The ministry further said that the Government is finalizing the required legislative framework to facilitate such air travel, which will include protocols for compliance.
Botswana closed her borders in March 2020 following three reported positive cases of the Covid-19 disease.
Following the closure of the country’s points of entry including international airports, tourism enterprises were also forced to shut down due to a national lockdown that was started in April and lasted for over two months.
This week, Jonathan Gibson – Chobe Holdings’ Chief Executive Officer said that the company can offer no definite views on when the group will be fully operational again but went to say that the group went into the lockdown with a debt free and strong balance sheet.
“In anticipation of the relaxing of movement rules, a decision has been made for further limited lodge re-openings in early December in the expectation of increased trade over the holiday period”, said Gibson.