Monday, May 17, 2021

HATAB bemoans failure to resolve tourism impediments…10 year later

KASANE ÔÇô Government has failed to get rid of impediments that negatively affect business operations in the tourism sector, ten years after the Hospitality and Tourism Association of Botswana (HATAB) presented a report on the “catalogue of issues” that beleaguer tourism.

HATAB Chairman Thapelo Matsheka recently expressed his frustration with failure to resolve major issues that impede business in the tourism sector, despite regular consultations with government over the last ten years.

“HATAB compiled and submitted a report on impediments to business in the tourism sector, among them bureaucratic red tape imposed on the industry by various government agencies such as transport, Department of Wildlife and National Parks, Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs and Civil Aviation…to name a few,” he said.

However, said Matsheka, to date nothing has been done to get rid of these impediments. He challenged government to be responsive to HATAB’s presentation on issues that impede business.
Meanwhile, Mgosi Elias, the new Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism (MEWT) promised to kick start robust dialogue between government and HATAB in a bid to resolve all the outstanding matters. It also emerged that the Minister of Tourism, Tshekedi Khama snubbed an invitation to officiate at the HATAB conference for the third time.
“Kindly tell the Minister that we need to see him because the last time he attended the HATAB conference was in 2012,” Matsheka relayed a message through Elias.

Lack of transparency

HATAB has also raised concerns about the level of secrecy in the tourism sector, warning that if left unattended the issue of high unpredictability and lack of transparency will dent investor confidence. To demonstrate his case, Matsheka cited establishment of a land bank in the tourism sector as an example, for which Botswana Tourism Organisation (BTO) was tasked in 2008.

“In 2008, the Ministry of Wildlife and Tourism through BTO sought to establish a land bank of all concession areas, which would allow government to directly influence allocation as well as utilisation through competitive bid of the management plans for both existing operators and the broader market. This was intended to access the true market value and potential of concession areas. Regrettably, this has been caught up in unclear allocation criteria. As we speak a number of concession areas remain without any decision on whether to renew for existing operators. This results in uncertainty and failure to roll out expansion plans by existing operators,” Matsheka said.

Apart from the land bank, Matsheka says in 2011, HATAB compiled and submitted a report entailing a list of impediments that affect business operations in the tourism sector to the government of Botswana but to date no action has been taken.

“As we meet this morning these issues remain unresolved. In addition, the security of tenure for concession areas is not only unpredictable but lacks transparency. And as we will all know investors like predictability”.

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