The European Union this week revealed that it is supporting two studies, one on Letsibogo Dam and the other on Bobirwa, to examine the potential for tourism and leisure activities through the development of tourism and recreation facilities in the two adjacent regions, a statement said Friday.
It noted that Letsibogo Dam and its environs represent a strategic location for a new tourism destination based on the family, water leisure and recreation markets in and around the Selebi Phikwe region.
“The dam, situated only an easy day’s travel from major markets in Gauteng, South Africa, is also a natural stop over point for visitors to the Game Reserves and National Parks to the north of the country,” said the statement issued by Bester Gabotlale, Press and Information Officer.
Historically, Botswana’s tourism strategy of “high value-small numbers” has been widely acclaimed as a means of generating significant economic benefits while conserving wildlife and the natural environment.
This strategy, however, places limitations on growth. The potential to create new tourism complexes around dams creates more opportunities for economic growth as well as the ability to generate new markets in the family holiday and domestic sectors.
Taking into account the need to involve and benefit local communities, the consultancy team is working closely with the Mmadinare Community Trust to ensure that the potential for an adjacent Game Reserve and Eco-Lodge is closely linked to the proposed dam developments to create a diverse product appealing to all tourism markets.
Equally, the over-riding priority to maintain water quality requires close liaison with the Water Utilities Corporation and other government agencies.
By integrating the interests of governmental environmental agencies, local communities and the private sector, it is hoped that the Letsibogo Dam Development plan may become a model for similar developments in other parts of the country and serve as a model for a similar economic development around the new Dikgatlhong Dam presently under construction near Robelela on the lower Shashe River.
The Bobirwa tourism study will assume a regional perspective and seek to identify a focussed approach to further developing the tourism sector in the Bobirwa region.
The inception phase of the study has already highlighted the need for a combined approach from both the public and the private sector, and that a regional and nodal approach to tourism and recreational development planning is without doubt the most applicable way of looking at tourism and recreation in and around Selebi Phikwe.
The study will produce a tourism development planning framework investigating the opportunities, constraints, institutional framework, marketing strategies and key areas for tourism development in the region, as well as a 5-year tourism and recreation development action plan and project proposals for the most important tourism projects identified. The study is involving many discussions with existing tourism activities as well as with business, community and public administration organisations across the region and nationally.
Both studies commenced in February 2009 and are expected to be completed by the end of June this year.
The EU noted that the two studies are part of EU’s comprehensive “Economic Diversification of the Mining Sector” programme of Ôé¼30 million (about P300 million at current exchange rate) to support diversification within the mining sector and the economic diversification of Selebi Phikwe and surrounding areas from its current heavy dependence on the copper/nickel mining activities of BCL.
In addition to providing equipment and technical assistance as well as supporting exploration drilling programme at BCL and Tati, the programme provides support to the Selebi Phikwe Economic Diversification Unit (SPEDU) created in May 2008 in the form of a long-term adviser and short-term experts conducting feasibility studies in the tourism, education and agriculture sectors.
Funds up to P4.5 million were allocated for the implementation in 2009 of small projects in Selebi Phikwe, in the area of marketing, tourism, business support and beautification/infrastructure of the town.
Repayments of the loans extended to BCL and Tati by the EU via the government of up to P660 million will also support economic diversification projects in Selebi Phikwe.