BY PATIENCE RADISOENG
KASANE – Even though local communities of the tourism-rich district of Chobe are eager to strengthen their participation in the sector, not all players are willing to take them in.
This was said by Sankoyo village chief – Gokgathang Moalosi at the just ended annual Hospitality and Tourism Association of Botswana (HATAB) conference held in Kasane.
Moalosi also said that some operators within the tourism sector do not want to take part in developing the district.
“Because of the way the government do things we find it very difficult to carry on with some partnerships because they do not want to contribute to the community.”
Further he said such issues should be addressed, as he gave example about a local hotel that uses their staff to entertain their clients meanwhile there are nearby communities like Sankoyo village which has some cultural activities.
“We know some of the companies that operate in Botswana that operate also in other countries, we know what they do in those countries but there are not doing it here,”Moalosi continued.
He said the main challenge is lack of community participation in decision making; stating that people cannot take decisions in Gaborone while there are officers in the district who should be doing the job and being the one reporting it in Gaborone.
Adding that he sometimes sees companies operating in their area and consult them at their mercy because there is no system on the ground which forces them to talk to them.
Meanwhile the minister of environmental, natural resource conservation and tourism-Kitso Mokaila also said the tourism industry needs some introspection as he has the knowledge that it is doing well.
“We are content with handouts like football kits and sponsoring football tournaments; what about developing sustainable enterprises for them if indeed we want to do as the theme suggest thus ‘Sustainable tourism: A driving force for job creation, economic growth and development.’”
Adding that communities around the area have been in absolute poverty since the hunting ban was introduced 4 years ago.
He said, “Communities are asking me that if the government is not seeing that our land is taken from us as we can no longer rear cattle nor plough what else can we turn to.”
Thus when he talked about the going up numbers of poaching. Mokaila also suggested that the government should stop being inconsiderable about how people are suffering to wildlife.
“There is no point in coming to conferences and not really dealing with issues like this in developing real strategies if indeed we want to create jobs, economic growth and development,”he said.