Botswana Tourism Organization (BTO) Chief Executive Officer Thabo Dithebe has confirmed to the Parliamentary Committee on Statutory Bodies that the parastatal received instructions from the Ministry of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism lead by Tshekedi Khama to open an office in Dubai.
Dithebe stated that although the BTO does not have the right product for the Dubai market which is supported by very low numbers of people from the area coming into Botswana, the minister recently travelled to Dubai together with one of Dithebe’s junior officers who signed a contract on behalf of BTO.
Dithebe, who is on his way out of BTO revealed that an official contract with a Dubai operator was since been signed during a recent trip to Dubai led by Minister Tshekedi Khama and BTO Marketing Executive Julian Blackbeard.
Although Dithebe admitted that he did not have much input into the planning of the Dubai office, he told the parliamentary committee that the model for Dubai is such that BTO is going to partner with the contracted company to promote Botswana tourism in the Dubai office.
“The contract was signed by a marketing executive and I was unable to go because I had other engagements. I was informed by the legal officer upon their return from the trip that a contract has been signed. He has since furnished me with the copy of the contract,” Dithebe stated.
Still on Monday, Dithebe confirmed that there are also plans to spend P17 million over the next three years at the planned Dubai office. He however admitted that such money could be drawn from the tourism development fund as it was not budgeted for.
Meanwhile tourism sector insiders said early this week that there is need for an adequate thorough market analysis to be conducted before such an office is opened ÔÇô a view that Dithebe said he subscribed to.
“The market indicated that the BRICS market is the direction in which everybody is going,” he said adding that his initial plans were to open offices elsewhere. Quizzed on the non-existence of the BTO Board of Directors, Dithebe confirmed that the parastatal does not have a board and added that it is now nine months that there has been no board of directors.
The term of office for the last Board came to an end November 2015.
The Parliamentary Committee chairperson, Guma Moyo asked the CEO to who he reported under the circumstances.
Dithebe replied that if he had a board he would be reporting to the Chairman of the board. Dithebe stated that according to the Act, the BTO CEO reports to the Board of Directors.