Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Climate change puts tourism on shaky ground

Rising temperatures, low rainfall and the drying of the Okavango River have negatively affected   some tourism activities in Okavango catchment area.

Amid the threat to business due to drying up of the river mainstreams the government has advised water based tourism activities to come up with alternative tourism activities.

“We had to cancel some of the bookings due to the drying up of the river. Tourists had booked in advance and when we are faced with such situations we cancel some bookings and refund them.We no longer offer water based activities and this has affected our business,” said Back Packers, Manager Fana Hendry.

Hendry still remains optimistic that the water will reach Thamalakane river where they usually offer boat cruise.

Hendry further explained that they have since grounded their boats since the river mainstream has dried up.

Director for the University of Botswana Okavango Research Centre, Professor Joseph Mbaiwa has said in interview that the  effects of  global warming has potential to affect the tourism sector in  some of the sector’s hotspot areas. 

Professor Mbaiwa is of the view that rising temperatures have resulted in water levels dropping in areas such as Okavango Delta and also in tributaries like  Thamalakane River.

Mbaiwa says if the trend continues some tourism camps that are within the streams of water will not be as attractive to tourists when water levels drop further.

He said that tourists prefer camps that  are within the streams of water for  easy and best view of wildlife species.

Mbaiwa said that in areas that have no streams of water chances are minimal for wildlife viewing and sightseeing  as wildlife choose to go to areas where there is water.  

Acting Principal Meteriologist at the  Department of Meteorological Services,  Charles Molongwane is optimistic that the water will reach Thamalakane river. Molongwane indicated that  the Okavango Delta  is not likely to be affected by lack of rainfall since there has been enough rainfall in Angola where the river originates.   .

For his part the Environment, Wildlife and Tourism Minister , Tshekedi Khama has said that  there is need for people relying on water based tourism activities to come up with alternative tourism activities.

Khama advised entrepreneurs offering water based tourism activities   to come up with  other activities  as some parts of Okavango Delta and its tributaries dry up. 

Khama further stated that they have since started drilling boreholes in game parks to provide water to wildlife.

He said that some wildlife species had to travel long distances which resulted wildlife dying due to heat. He said that the water from boreholes will be pumped into traditional pools to provide wildlife with water.

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