The long standing issue of congestion at the Chobe National Park (CNP) which threatens to negatively impact on tourism in the Northern region resurfaced once again at the Hospitality and Tourism Association of Botswana HATAB annual conference in Maun on Friday. This is one burning issue which has not been adequately addressed considering the number of vehicles which continuously enter the park, particularly during peak season.
Although the whole of CNP is said to be affected, the area covering 17 kilometres between Sedudu and Serondela is reported to be the most burdened as more than a hundred vehicles pass through there on a daily basis, thus also leading to degradation of the area known for its sensitivity.
Briefing stakeholders at the conference, Acting CNP manager Mokwaledi Mafa decried the little or no support from tour operators who for unknown reasons still find no fault in ferrying tourists through illegal routes.
Because of this lack of cooperation he stated that the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP) has come up with strategies geared towards controlling as well lessening vehicle movement along the river front. These include the recent development and adoption of the code of conduct which will ensure controlled visitor behaviour, including among others, restricted times spent at sightings so as to create space.
“In addition to that, only two vehicles from each company will be allowed in the park per day. We will also allow for bookings to be done at least seven days in advance. A booking confirmation will also have to be made two days in advance because otherwise if we leave things as they are at the moment, then the tourism sector will be hugely affected. We might as well see tourists opting to visit other countries because what they are more interested in is value for their money,” he said.
However Mafa noted that not all strategies brought up are winning because some tourists always put strain on tour guides and dictate on where and what places they want to be taken to as they would have paid large amounts of money for such services. This therefore constantly leaves operators with no alternative but to attend to the needs of their clients for fear of losing out on business.