Monday, September 21, 2020

Tourism hot spot deliberately left out of Special Economic Zones

The newly set up, Special Economic Zones Authority (SEZA) has defended the government’s decision to exclude some of the country’s top tourism destination from “Special Economic Zones” the list for now.

The Special Economic Zones (SEZ) policy adopted by the Government a few years back has been designed to attract world class domestic and foreign investors by offering them developed infrastructure, state of the art technology, beneficial inter-sectoral linkages, improvements in economies of scale, specially trained skilled labour force and targeted economic incentives in some areas across the country.

Most chosen areas, however are not known for tourism attractiveness, a thing which pushed some pundits to question the selection of such areas over those that are home to tourists attraction sites.

Lonely Mogara – director of Policy and Industry at SEZA however have different views. He says the tourism sector is now well developed thus the need to assist other sectors which have potential.

According to Mogara, while it is true that it appears like the tourism sector has been left out, part of the SEZA initiatives will contribute towards the growth of the sector. He also empathises that the infrastructure that SEZA intend to come up with is also aimed at making it easy for visitors to travel easily around the country.

At the same time, Mogara says the Botswana Tourism Organisation (BTO) is the ideal organisation to promote tourism and as such leaving the sector out of the SEZA set-up would give it room to do its responsibility. He stresses that the move to encourage the setting up of a tourism cluster was a compliment as opposed to a duplicate on what Special Economic Zones is currently mandated to do.

Meanwhile the University of Botswana Okavango Research Centre Director – Professor Joseph Mbaiwa said he remain hopeful that the cluster tourism will benefit tourism hot spot areas since there are opportunities that remain untapped.

He indicated that through the tourism cluster there is an indication that there is a political will to exploit opportunities that remain untapped in these areas though tourism is not part of the Special Economic Zones.

 “We have seen a number of teams at the research centre from National Strategic Office in the Office of the President who have been seeking assistance on how to turnaround the economic value of this tourism sector. We have assisted them and we are hopeful that since they have started hitting the ground running the tourism hot spot areas will realise its potential,” ‘said Mbaiwa.

Mbaiwa indicated that since the tourism cluster was President Mokgweetsi Masisi‘s idea while he was the vice president it is unlikely to fail.

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