Friday, February 23, 2024

Ebola chokes tourism sector in Botswana

The outbreak of Ebola virus has a potential to affect tourism volume arrivals in the country which could have a negative impact on the tourism industry.

Minister of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism, Tshekedi Khama stated in an interview that arrivals are likely to be affected because tourists from the western African countries that have been affected will not be able to come to Botswana.

He said that since Botswana has closed borders for those coming from Western African countries this will affect tourism arrivals from those countries.

He said that it will be a challenge to the tourism sector if tourists from Europe view Africa as a no go area despite the fact that southern African countries have not been affected by Ebola virus.

Khama said that the recent Ebola outbreak has not disturbed their core market such as Europe and America.

Khama further emphasised that there is a need to dispel fears among tourists who intend to visit the country.

Khama said Botswana like other Southern African countries was safe because health officials in the SADC countries have been meeting to address the Ebola outbreak.

He admitted that in the absence of direct flights from Europe and USA this will deter tourists who want to visit Botswana because they have to travel to other countries before they arrive in Botswana.

Botswana does not have direct flights from America and Europe.

Reports have indicated that the outbreak of the Ebola virus in West Africa is hitting many African economies where they are most vulnerableÔÇöthe tourism industryÔÇöas travelers reconsider trips to places as far away as Kenya and South Africa.

Fear of the virus is rattling would be tourists to the continent and is underlining the risks some associate with travel to Africa. Anxious African governments have been accused of potentially amplifying those worries with their own draconian measures to keep the virus from breaching borders.

Tourism authorities and trade associations have issued statements trying to allay, but operators say they are still getting anxious phone calls, culminating in fewer bookings and abrupt cancellations.

The World Health Organization has reported 2,240 suspect or confirmed cases of Ebola since the beginning of the outbreak, with 1,229 deaths. Those cases are limited to Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.

WHO has flagged as high risk some countries that are transit points for people traveling from West AfricaÔÇösuch as KenyaÔÇöbut has urged those countries not to shut their borders. The disease isn’t contagious until symptoms appear, and even then it requires bodily fluid contact to spread.

“Non affected countries need to strengthen the capacity to detect and immediately contain new cases, while avoiding measures that will create unnecessary interference with international travel or trade,” the WHO said recently.


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