Coronavirus threatens tourism industry

Kabelo Adamson
HATAB CEO: Rakorong

The local tourism and hospitality industry is already feeling the pinch of the outbreak of the Coronavirus as clients continue to cancel reservations.

Speaking at a media briefing this week, Hospitality and Tourism Association of Botswana (HATAB) CEO- Lily Rakorong, said the effects of the Coronavirus, or Covid-19, are already being felt in the local tourism and hospitality industry.

“We are at cross roads; these are trying times for us. However, I must say we still remain calm and positive and looking forward to the future,” said Rakorong.

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She said although it is still early to quantify the amount on the damage the virus is causing to the local tourism and hospitality industry, early indications are that the effects are creeping in gradually.

“We are experiencing cancellations, but also not yet at the peak of the season and the first quarter of the year is normally a very slow period of the year,” revealed Rakorong, adding that they are not sure what will happen once the peak season arrives.

Although Air Botswana had not yet responded to The Voice enquiries by press time, Rakorong revealed that international movements have declined by 20 percent.

“Arrivals have declined, be it in the hotels, lodges, mobile safaris, guest houses and travel agencies and all these are currently experiencing reduction in business,” she said at a media briefing which was also attended by health ministry officials.

Meanwhile, Botswana Tourism Organization (BTO) CEO, Myra Sekgororoane has revealed major tourism events such as the Toyota Desert Race and Khawa Dune Challenge run the risk of being cancelled due to the outbreak of the deadly virus which has claimed the lives of over 4000 people across the world.

In recent days, major events across the world have been cancelled in order to contain the virus and the same could be the case here in Botswana where 16 people have already been tested for the virus.

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