Sunday, October 25, 2020

Covid 19 to wipe out P6 billion tourism revenue

Botswana’s tourism industry is projected to lose over P6 billion in 2020, thanks largely to the global Covid-19 pandemic. 

The country’s first reported positive case of Covid 19 in February/March resulted in closure of tourism enterprises as early as the 24th February. By the end of April 2020 – when more cases were being reported, atleast 90.7 percent of the facilities were closed and only 9.3 were open to guests. 

The country also closed 21 ports of entry out of a total of 31 with the 10 remaining ports strictly open for trucks delivering essential goods into the country. 

In April, the Botswana Tourism Organisation (BTO) estimated that the total revenue loss will be in the billions of Pula due to cancellations and postponements of bookings which were anticipated at that time.  

A recent study on the Impact of the Covid-19 on the Travel & Tourism Industry in Botswana has since confirmed that cancellations and postponed bookings resulted in revenue loss of about P236,149,784.56. The overall projected loss in revenue under which the cancellation and postponement revenue loss is estimated at P818, 530,750.81 during the year 2020. The report says on average, each facility was expected to register P4, 472,845.00 loss in revenue throughout this year.

Meanwhile proposed mitigation measures contained in the report shows that tourism players suggested for a government assistance with guaranteed loans, lease fee and tax holidays. The assistance, industry players said, will help the hard-hit tourism sector to recover over the next three years. 

Tourism companies also asked the government to avail the wage subsidy intervention until next year peak season (April 2021). The Botswana Tourism Organisation – a government agency established to promote tourism in the country has been asked to consider waiving fees for participation at international marketing fairs for the next two years of recovery. The industry also wants the Department of Tourism to issue a bed levy payment break, “at least for a year because there are no prospects of return to normality during the year 2020”.

The report further stated that loss of jobs were registered with 8.1 percent of employees that were working in tourism facilities laid-off. To avert more job losses, 93.7 percent of tourism enterprises reported that they intended to apply for the government wage subsidy.

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