The Minister of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism, Kitso Mokaila, has reassured investors and potential investors in the tourism sector that recent research and analysis indicates a healthy and pleasing growth, signaling an illustrious future for the tourism industry in Botswana.
Speaking at the launch of the Cresta Residency Hotel in Francistown last week Mokaila said that the recently published tourism satellite account for Botswana as published by the World Travel and Tourism Council and its partners Oxford Economics indicates that from 1995 to 2005 tourism arrivals in Botswana have averaged annual rates of 14.2 percent.
“While 2006 rates are not yet available, industry estimates point to an even higher growth,” he said.
Mokaila explained that Botswana’s market share in terms of tourism demand is forecast to exceed the Sub Saharan overall demand as well as the global average.
The minister, however, challenged tourism operators in other areas of Botswana like Francistown, which are not part of Botswana’s well known tourism destinations like the Okavango Delta and the Chobe National Park, to seek avenues through which they can attract customers.” The tourism strategies going forward recognize the need for a wider geographic spread and diversification of the product into other forms of tourism, “he said.
Mokaila added that Botswana’s tourism industry has always been more dependent on the country’s pristine natural resources and less on creativity.
However, he said, it has been continuously proven that tourism can be created as evidenced by some countries and cities around the world that previously had no natural resources to attract tourism. Mokaila said that both government and the private sector need to work hard to make Botswana’s cities more attractive with places and events of interest that can entice tourists, residents and international visitors.
As an example, Mokaila said that he recently launched the Tachila Nature Reserve in Francistown. He urged hoteliers in Francistown, especially the nearby Marang Hotel and Cresta Residency Hotel to form strategic alliances with the nature reserve and avail its facilities to their guests.
Mokaila also said that the business tourism market segment dominates Botswana‘s major cities and insufficient attention has been paid to keeping this tourism sector engaged by showcasing Botswana outside their business and conferencing. Mokaila said that hotels in Botswana’s major cities have to strategically place themselves to reap rewards from the booming market involving meetings, incentives conventions and events (MICE) market which has shown phenomenal growth in tourism markets internationally.
On other issues Mokaila agitated for increased participation of Batswana in the ownership and management of tourism enterprises. He, however, lambasted the overall service culture in Botswana which he said leaves a lot to be desired. He challenged the hospitality industry to take the lead in reflecting Botswana’s culture of botho, and also to take cognizance of the complimentary skills required and expected by both local and international tourists.
”In general, service levels are fairly low especially amongst commercial hotels or those in towns and cities catering primarily for the business market segment,” he said.
The minister concluded by saying that it would defeat investment and indeed promoting Botswana as a competitive tourism destination if grand and lavish structures are not matched with the appropriate quality of service.