The Hospitality and Tourism Association of Botswana (HATAB) has pointed out the need for policy and regulatory reforms which will foster tourism development and has identified areas of improvement and development in the catalogue of issues.
HATAB Chairman, Dr Thapelo Matsheka, said the organisation already has areas that it focusing on and it will continue for the next two years. According to Matsheka, policy advocacy strengthens the organisation’s relationship with the Botswana Confederation of Commerce Industry and Manpower (BOCCIM); and to strength the relationship with government, especially through the Ministry of Environment Wildlife and Tourism, Ministry of Transport and Communication, Ministry of Lands and Housing and Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs.
“My main priority is to give guidance, work closely with the executive team, and make sure the secretariat delivers on the HATAB mandate and ensure that we serve the interest of our members. Other areas that we will look into through the secretariat,” he pointed out.
Matsheka revealed that the tourism industry has evolved with time due to the demands of the market and changing global landscape. “I am however hopeful that Botswana tourism will receive the attention of government and other stakeholders, he said, adding that the forecast for 2014 by the IMF points to an improving global economy.
Economies in the developed countries, which are Botswana’s source markets, are projected to grow by 2.5 percent per annum adding that the growth will be led more by the USA with a growth of 3 percent. He is of the view that if this comes to fruition, then they remain hopeful that the sector will benefit from increased demand from the high value markets.
“As a matter of fact, the whole economy will benefit. It is also for all of us to tap on the relocation of De BEERS sight holder activities to Botswana. We need to keep them longer at our facilities if the benefits are to accrue directly to the economy,” he stated.
Matsheka pointed out that another area that HATAB will focus on is marketing Botswana‘s tourism industry adding that it will be something that the secretariat will work on together with Botswana Tourism Organisation.
“BTO‘s mandate is to market and promote Botswana as a premier Tourism destination of choice. But this is a collaborative effort. The industry needs to raise standards, government to ease challenges of the sector, and then BTO to market the industry. It is when you see the inter dependencies that you appreciate the need to work together. It is these parties that will improve the position of Botswana Tourism. I hope that with my executive committee we will realise that task together,” said Matsheka.
He also emphasised that it is further upon HATAB to say to government that the sector has great opportunity and unique challenges. He added that it can be taken to higher level with better collaboration of key players. He said they must look into developing a common policy framework to drive the change process and position Botswana tourism globally.
“The nature of the mandate of advocacy is to draw attention to challenges that are faced by businesses and as such often the policy implementers adopt a defensive posture even when government policy is clear on the role of the private sector and indeed that Botswana adopted a private sector led model of development from inception. It is therefore critical to continue to say that the request to simplify and ease doing business is consistent with policy,” said Matsheka.