Government say the projection of Botswana as a tourist and investment destination of choice will undoubtedly serve national interests through catalysing Botswana’s trade and investment prospects with the wider international community.
Speaking of Friday at the annual HATAB conference in Kasane, Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi said that government appreciated he critical role that tourism continued to play in the overall development of Botswana, given its support to priority areas of job creation.
Masisi is of the view that investment opportunities in the hospitality and tourism sector will put Botswana in a good position to host international conferences and events, thus growing the sector to unprecedented levels through tapping into new markets.
“The private sector can do by investing in capital intensive projects, including infrastructure, engaging in joint ventures to capacitate citizens, training tourism workers, thereby creating additional employment opportunities,” said Masisi.
He believes that there is need to promote closer coordination between the tourism sector, Brand Botswana and relevant line Ministries to collectively project a favourable image of Botswana to the outside world.
He stated that the tourism industry should be prepared with the willingness as well as the capacity to receive tourists that are attracted to such events.
Furthermore he added that it was important to take advantage of the international appeal for such events and start actively packaging and selling them internationally as an add-on product to the already thriving safari and wilderness sector. He said it was also important to seriously consider investing in the southern and western parts of the country which still remains marginal in this industry.
“HATAB should work with the relevant institutions to develop a robust programme to mobilise members to adopt approaches that cater for various tourism products and activities. This would ensure that both investors and communities derive benefits in our continued efforts to expand the tourism sector and make it more inclusive,” said Masisi.
He observed that through previous experience with other countries, it has been indicated that through this ITB partnership, Botswana should realise a 30-percent increase in in-bound tourism in the near future from the global market.
He added that this would translate to an additional USD200 million in earnings to Botswana’s economy. He stated that the participation in the ITB event is also expected to boost the country as a unique and serious tourism destination to the global market.
He further stated that according the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) 2015 estimates the total contribution of tourism to Botswana’s GDP is in the region of 5.2 percent with its total contribution to employment being about 2.6 percent.
He added that the tourism sector is characterised by personalised service and is therefore labour intensive. He said international benchmarks suggest that for every 30 tourists attracted, one direct and five indirect jobs are created.
“I implore you to respond to the call by supporting implementation of national policies, adopting appropriate business practices and promoting consumer behavior towards a more sustainable tourism sector that can contribute effectively to the SDGs,” said Masisi.