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Dam tourism to boost economic activity

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Dam tourism to boost economic activity
Official opening of Shashe dam

Tonota Sub-District and its environs are expected to benefit immensely from the tourism prospects presented by last weekend’s launch of the Shashe Dam’s tourism initiative.

Last Saturday, Botswana Tourism Organization (BTO) in partnership with Water Utilities Corporation (WUC) opened Shashe Dam for leisure and recreational activities with a view to diversify the current tourism offerings in the area.

When launching the initiative, Environment, Natural Resources Conversation and Tourism Minister Tshekedi Khama said the envisaged new developments at the dam will focus on both local and international tourists.

According to Khama, the additional tourism offering brought about by the dams will be directly benefiting communities living around or close to the dams through the development of lodges, campsites, cycling, horse riding and fishing.

“A total of 636 job opportunities are expected during the development phase of Shashe Dam project,” said Khama, adding that 1 737 jobs will be created from the dams tourism initiative across the country.

Khama added: “Locals are expected to actively participate and directly benefit from the dam tourism initiative that would be carried out in collaboration with the Local Enterprise Authority (LEA) who will assist startup businesses with the much-needed skills.”

Tonota MP Thapelo Olopeng said the project will succeed and benefit the people in his constituency especially the disadvantaged members of the society. He said the dam area has been always a hive of an activity for dam tourism lovers.

“About 3 000 people from all walks of life would converge this place for a weekend or over the holidays,” said Olopeng, adding that scores of tourists are expected to converge the dam area during the ongoing Easter Holidays.

Implementation of the proposed developments at Shashe Dam as per the master plan is planned to commence in the 2018/19 financial year and will include design and construction of bulk infrastructure as well as soliciting for investors to take up the anticipated business opportunities.

Late last year, North East District Council (NEDC) Chairperson Flora Mpetsane, told a November full council session that BTO is facilitating the implementation of the dams’ tourism initiative to foster diversity.

BTO and WUC have completed tourism master plans for Gaborone, Thune, Letsibogo, Shashe and Ntimbale dams after the government approved and set aside some funds for the earmarked projects.

Tourism is an increasingly important industry sector in Botswana’s economy accounting for almost 12 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).