At a time when the worst global recession has had an impact on tourism industry, a number of players in the sector are retreating next week to the tourism hot spot of Kasane for the annual self retrospection open season conference.
The conference comes at a time when there are a number of developments in the sector, including legislative reforms aimed at empowering citizens to participate and shape the future of Botswana tourism.
“Our theme: ‘Shaping the Future of Tourism Trough an Enabling Environment’ seeks to provide a platform for participants to discuss the policy regulatory framework and whether it enables tourism growth”, said the organisers, HATAB in a statement.
Normally, the conference attracts over 200 delegates and the Chief Executive Officer of HATAB, Morongoe Ntloedibe-Disele, said ‘this year’s conference promises to be exciting’.
It comes at a time drivers of the industry, the aviation sector, is undergoing liberalisation with a number of airliners including South African Airways (SAA) and Kenya Airways with others in negotiation to come to join aviation party.
Frank Ramsden, Transport and Communications Minister said early this year that government was in discussions with Air Mauritius, Singapore Airlines, Qatar Airways and British Airways to operate in Botswana, especially that SSKIA airport is being expanded.
Tourists who have been using the OR Tambo International Airport enroute to Botswana destination have been inconvenienced because of security concerns when they could use direct airliners to Botswana.
The Kasane airport is also being expanded.
A number of legislations including the Tourism Bill, which removed a clause on grading from the Tourism Act due to the fact that the grading function has since been transferred to the Botswana Tourism Board.
Another bill, Botswana Tourism Organisation Bill, came through parliament and it is expected that it was going to replace Botswana Tourism Board. It came with stiffer penalties to the ungraded facilities.
BTO performs the functions that were done by BTB although it is tough on grading to match the country’s facilities with international ones.
“All rights, obligations, assets and liabilities, which have accrued to the Botswana Tourism Board in terms of the repealed Act shall, upon this Act coming to force, simultaneously pass and accrue to Botswana Tourism and be dealt with in terms of this Act”, reads memorandum on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.
Jacob Nkate, the Chief Executive Officer of Botswana Export Development and Investment Authority (BEDIA) will open the conference while Geoffrey Bakwena, CEO of Stockbrokers Botswana will close the conference.
The conference will be held on April 23-24.