Botswana Tourism Organisation (BTO) has cancelled Gaborone International Airshow, a P 7, 996, 500 event that duplicated and was in the same geographical area as the already existing Matsieng International Airshow.
The cancellation of the BTO calendar event follows a cancellation of another BTO event, a music show sponsored at the tune of P3 million that was expected to be headlined by American crooner Seal; dubbed “the basket and song,” earlier this year.
GIAS which was set to happen this past week- August 4 at its traditional host place at the Sir Seretse Khama International Airport (SSKIA) – would have been be on its third year running.
However, in a statement to announce the cancellation of the show at the eleventh hour BTO said, “We apologise for this late notification, which was not at all anticipated. The cancelation is necessary to allow the organization to reposition this and other events for optimal value derivation, from tourism type events.”
BTO Public relations and communication manager, Keitumetse Setlang in a carefully worded response to Voice Entertainment said, “The organisation took the decision to reposition the Gaborone International Air Show (GIAS) in relation to other events that are taking place and also to rationalize all the events owing to budgets inadequacies and availability of various other resources.”
Asked if the cancellation was not due to pressure to ditch it as there was a similar event around the same time Setlang said, “As part of the society, the organisation will always, consider and review feedback from all the organization’s stakeholders, and make decisions based on such feedback and all other factors. It should however be noted that the two events much as they had similarities, differed in terms of setting and activities. BTO sponsored the Rasesa Airshow as it had a different flair from the GIAS.”
The Voice Entertainment also put it to BTO that GISAS was funded from the BTO fund, which prohibits duplication of an already existing event to which they responded “The organisation decided to rationalise its events, and a choice made in terms of which on the list of activities could be sacrificed. It was easy to do so with the GIAS, instead of other events, which are staged in areas that have less tourism activities. BTO will continue to work with the Rasesa Airshow, as we have a responsibility in supporting events that show a high touristic value. This includes events started by BTO, with an intention to incubate and hive off to private sector eventually, and those set out by private sector alone, based on a review of such events.”
GIAS made headlines earlier this year when it came to light that it was hosted at the directive of the Minister of Environment, Natural Resources, Conservation and Tourism, Tshekedi Khama who flouted corporate governance principles and procedure to sponsor it.
In a letter seen by The Voice, Khama had unilaterally directed the then CEO to source out P 7, 996, 500 million pula from the TDF for the Gaborone International Airshow, although BTO was aware that it duplicated and was in the same geographical area as the already existing Matsieng International Airshow.
This subsequently led to the minister appearing before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to be interrogated for allegations of acting Illegally in directing and ‘controlling’ the affairs of the BTO.
Asked if the cancellation had anything to do with the recently released report, which implicated Tshekedi in wrongdoing, BTO declined to comment only saying “We will not be able to answer this question as it pertains to an issue outside our jurisdiction.”
“GIAS was staged in 2016 as one of the activities to commemorate the country’s 50th anniversary, and the show then happened for the second time following resounding public feedback. The GIAS provided an opportunity for the public to interact closely with life at the airport. This was done seamlessly to avoid major impact on airport traffic and with all due care taken for airport safety. The show was doing well, however a decision was made on its future as per the rationale stated earlier,” Setlang said.