A new body that will regulate the tourism industry and perform duties of marketing, promoting tourism attractions, to encourage and facilitate travel is in the offing.
The Botswana Tourism Organisation (BTO), which will emanate from Botswana Tourism Organisation Act 2009, will assume the functions currently done by Botswana Tourism Board headed by Myra Sekgororoane.
“All rights, obligations, assets and liabilities, which have accrued to the Botswana Tourism Board in terms of the repealed Act shall, upon this Act coming into force, simultaneously pass and accrue to Botswana Tourism and be dealt with in terms of this Act,” reads memorandum on Botswana Tourism Organisation Bill 2009.
The new body will overall implement tourism marketing while promoting the establishment of joint tourist enterprise ventures between citizens and foreign investors.
An interesting aspect of the role of the new body is the development of and improving the existing tourism opportunities and diversifies the sector to include other forms of tourism such as cultural and heritage tourism, eco tourism, entertainment, recreational and leisure tourism.
Mauritius has been successful in the promotion of cultural tourism ahead of Botswana.
These will allay criticism leveled at government that it is focusing on high-value, low-volume tourism strategy that has locked out a number of Batswana, who prefer outside travel as opposed to pristine destinations in the country.
Last week, one commentator argued for the diversification of the tourism product as more focus is given to eco sensitive areas like the Okavango that attracts around 120, 000 visitors per year.
“They need to market it (tourism) in its entirety”, one observer advised the tourism marketers.
The memorandum stated that the new body shall grade all tourist enterprises licensed under the Tourism Act and any person who operates an enterprise that is not graded in accordance with the Act commits an offence and liable to a P20, 000 fine or imprisonment not exceeding 5 years.
If after making all necessary
inspections and investigations, the body is not satisfied that a tourist enterprise qualifies to be graded, it shall assign a symbol of ‘ungraded’.
A tourism enterprise may only operate on a grade symbol of ‘ungraded’ for 12 months after which it shall attain at least a one star grade.
A tourist enterprise which fails to attain at least a one star grade after 12 months of operating as ‘ungraded’, shall cease to operate as a tourist enterprise in line with requirements of Tourism Act.
BTO will have Board of Directors with representatives from ministry of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism, six members of the public and private sector who have the skill and competence relevant to the tourism industry.
BTB was established by an Act of Parliament in 2004, with a mandate to: market and promote Botswana as a Premier Tourism Destination of Choice, to Grade and Classify Accommodation Facilities, and promote Investment in the Tourism Sector.
The Bill was table in parliament last week by former minister of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi on behalf of incumbent minister Kitso Mokaila who was attending a meeting in Copenhagen.