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Banking on tourism

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Banking on tourism
Okavango Delta

SADC pin hopes on tourism to boost regional growth

Botswana is one of 12 countries in the 15-member Southern African Development Community (SADC) to agree to fast track the review of the Protocol on Tourism Development in the hope of boosting economic growth in the region.

A joint meeting of SADC ministers responsible for Environment and Natural Resources, Fisheries and Aquaculture and Tourism held in South Africa early last week emphasized on the Protocol’s importance to the economies of member states and its interconnectedness with other sectors.

Only the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Malawi and Seychelles voted against the review being brought forward.

Member states further directed SADC’s secretariat to fast track the review of Regional Tourism Organisation of Southern Africa (RETOSA) Charter and the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the two secretariats.

“The fast tracking will result in the SADC secretariat and the RETOSA secretariat incorporating changes emanating from the transformation process to facilitate the transformation and sustainability of the regional tourism body,” reads part of the statement.

In July 2016, RETOSA was integrated into the SADC secretariat as a full directorate, as a transitional mechanism during a regional summit held in Gaborone following the approval of the proposal made in 2014.

RETOSA is a SADC body responsible for the promotion and marketing of tourism in the region and its 15-member states are supportive of its existence as a means of promoting regional integration.

Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism Minister, Tshekedi Khama told Voice Money in a telephone interview that the High Commissioner at the Botswana Consulate in South Africa attended the meeting alongside other government officials.

However, Khama would not be drawn into discussing the outcome of the joint meeting, except to say that the development is aimed at boosting the region’s economic potential through the tourism industry.

At the joint meeting, ministers noted that RETOSA has been transformed pursuant to the decision of Ministers of Tourism at last year’s meeting.

The relevance of the Trans-Frontier Conservation Areas (TFCA) Development Strategy to tourism development in the SADC region was also reflected on by the ministers.