Thursday, August 18, 2022

Tourism set to grow exponentially

Tourism related revenues in Botswana are projected to reach an estimated 15 billion Pula by the year 2022 provided the country’s biodiversity is well preserved.

This was revealed by the US Ambassador to Botswana, Michelle Gavin at the Wildlife Enforcement Networks (WENs) meeting held in Gaborone last week.  The figure would be almost double the eight billion Pula revenue generated by eco-tourism in 2012.

She said however that poaching threatens the revenue African countries earn from tourism.

“Tourism, including eco-tourism, is playing an increasingly important role in Africa’s economic development; international tourist arrivals to Africa increased even during the recent global economic crisis, resulting in billions of dollars of revenue to governments and local economies,” she said.

Gavin said wildlife trafficking has now become an issue of economic development, of health, of rule of law, and of national security. She said wildlife trafficking evades the rule of law.

“It undermines the capacity of the state to control and protect its borders. It invites insidious corruption, and pries open space for other illicit activities and operates in fundamental opposition to the sound governance that is essential for peace and prosperous growth.”

Gavin said the US government has elevated wildlife crime from an environmental issue to a foreign policy priority. 

Neil Fitt, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism (MEWT) said poaching is gaining ground worldwide.

“This is being driven by demand far from our homes,” Fitt said. “The returns are high therefore there are plenty of people willing to take risk.”

He said as the demand increases, so do the benefits and therefore the profits. This, he said, has started the drive for poachers and traders to become more organised and sophisticated.
“We need to be aware of this and keep in front of the game and this can only be done if we work together,” Fitt said.

WENs were formed by governments from Africa, Asia, and South America as agreements by the governments to coordinate the efforts of wildlife authorities, law enforcement, customs, border officials┬á and other security forces to combat wildlife trafficking.┬á The networks facilitate information sharing, both of ‘lessons learned’ designed to build capacity, and of operational information designed to ensure better collaboration and coordination against wildlife trafficking.

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