DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA ÔÇô South Africa’s minister of tourism, Derek Hanekom has said that he was looking forward to host his Botswana counterpart, Tshekedi Khama at the just ended Africa Travel Indaba.
Hanekom was addressing a group of journalists from the African continent during the gathering which was attended by over 6000 delegates including tourism Ministers from Angola, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The African ministers joined thousands of tourism experts to explore potential solutions to the challenges of regional integration.
The discussions emphasised the need for increased commitment from all African states in implementing the bi-lateral and multi-lateral agreements.
“Where is your minister, he should be here”, said Hanekom on the side-lines of the conference. Hanekom was speaking to a journalist from Botswana
Tshekedi has so far missed two key tourism events geared towards improving tourists’ attraction into Botswana.
While the expectation was that the minister will make an appearance at the annual Hospitality and Tourism Association of Botswana (HATAB) conference and the annual Africa Tourism Indaba the minister did not show face in any of the two.
The HATAB annual conference seeks to provide a platform for a dialogue amongst the public and private sector including leadership to engage and share information on tourism development and challenges.
The conference acts as a stakeholder engagement platform which provides an opportunity for HATAB members, policy makers, business leaders, academia and other key stakeholders to reflect on opportunities, challenges and prospects within the tourism industry with a view to providing solutions.
This year’s edition was held in Maun under the theme “Communications, information and education: Power lines of tourism development”. The key note address was given by the University of Botswana Vice Chancellor, Professor David Norris.
Following the HATAB conference which ended last week Friday, Tshekedi was expected to travel across the border into South Africa where the neighbouring country is sponsoring an African travel and tourism gathering this past week.
Themed Integrated Regional Tourism – A tool for economic development, the session afforded African Ministers and key tourism industry experts and players an opportunity to deliberate on the state of tourism in Africa.
“Tourism in Africa is advancing steadily and we have been able to leverage successfully on our geographical and cultural assets to attract tourists to our continent.”
“With global tourist arrivals predicted to reach 134 million by 2030, there is an increased need for us to address the challenges that hinder the growth of tourism.
“This will require that we find ways to work together to create an enabling environment that will facilitate synergy in the development of regional tourism products, and ensure the growth and sustainability of the African tourism market,” said Hanekom.
Tshekedi’s none show at the two key events comes at a time when Botswana is said to have withdrawn its membership from the RETOSA body without prior consultation with the stakeholders in Botswana.
RETOSA or the Regional Tourism Organisation of Southern Africa is a Southern African Development Community (SADC) body responsible for the development of tourism and regional destination marketing across the 15 Southern Africa countries.
The Deputy PS in the ministry of tourism Felix Monggae recently admitted to Sunday Standard that withdrawing Botswana’s membership from RETOSA was sudden. “Withdrawing from RETOSA was not spiteful, but we wanted to allow private sector to take lead”.