The Department of Tourism in Francistown is battling an increase of unlicensed guest houses, which are mushrooming in various areas of the city.┬á
Taelo Moncho, the Principal Tourism Officer at the Tourism Department in Francistown, told The Telegraph in an interview that, despite several efforts by his department to spread public awareness on licensing of guest houses, such a challenge persists.
“The situation is made worse by the fact that there is an influx of foreigners, especially Zimbabweans and Zambians into the city who come to buy goods. This has led to some of the residents operating illegal guest houses to accommodate these foreigners,” he said.
Moncho added that the Tourism Act of 2009 requires that all tourism related businesses be duly registered and licensed. He said that a team from his department visited several residences in Francistown this year and found out that some individuals were illegally accommodating clients who paid for accommodation per night.
“The only reply we get from these illegal guest house operators is that they are doing the illegal business because they are trying to make a living,” Moncho said.
He added that the law stipulates clearly that if someone accommodates a person and charges them per a night, it becomes a tourism business and falls under the ambit of the tourism sector.
However, Moncho said that they have since handed some of the culprits to the police where they have been charged.
He warned that operating an unlicensed guest house is a crime and added that it can be punishable by a maximum of 5 years imprisonment or a P20 000 fine.
He appealed to those who are interested in the guest house business to approach his department and acquire proper licensing.