The Hospitality & Tourism Association of Botswana (HATAB) recently held a successful two- day annual conference under the theme:“Unleashing Economic Potential through Tourism” in Kasane.
Attended by operators that included lodges, hotels,mobile safari and transfer companies as well as high ranking government officials, parastatal representatives and a number of high commissioners to Botswana, the meeting engaged in vibrant discussions ranging from the controversial Chobe National Park decongestion strategy to bed levy increment from P2 to P10, often in heated debates.
Officially opening the conference which marked Botswana tourism peak season, the Assistant Minister of Trade and Industry, Vincent Seretse highlighted the need for Botswana tourism to adapt to the dictates of the fast changing business environment it operated under.
Emphasising the importance of collaboration among tourism stakeholders for purposes of transforming the industry into a professional sector that can meaningfully contribute to the economy, Seretse called for a strict adherence to quality and service excellence standards.
“Globally, tourism is a high growth industry and this poses both challenges and opportunities for tourism business operators and Government. In order to respond more competitively to the market challenges and opportunities in this industry, it is imperative that, we, as tour operators, Government, Local Authorities, labour and local communities build and strengthen our collaboration.
We should form strategic partnership alliances through which we can mitigate marginalization within the interplay of the intensifying regional and global competition.” the Minister said.
He further observed that there was a need to work as a coherently integrated system to transform the tourism industry into a high profile sector that can more meaningfully contribute to the sustainable growth of Botswana’s share of the global trade.
“In this regard, it is important for members of the Tourism Industry to continually collaborate with other stakeholders at both the central and local authority levels, including local communities, in which their businesses operate, to develop innovative ways of continually improving the quality of Botswana’s tourism product range. This can be achieved through strict adherence to existing quality and service excellence standards that discerning international tourists expect from tourist destinations. “ he said
Asked to comment on the success of the conference HATAB Acting CEO, Lily Rakorong who had called for action and answers on pending questions before the conference was held, expressed general satisfaction at the level of debate and progress reports especially by the immigration department, with a few reservations concerning the Ministry of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism.
“ Responding to questions on park fees, Minister Kitso Mokaila said he has looked into our recommendations, but he did not share his opinions or feedback, and we strongly believe that he needs to share that with us before he takes the matter to parliament.
We have also written to him to reconsider postponing the implementation of the bed levy after taking into consideration the financial implications its immediate implementation would have on our members who operate with pre booked and pre-paid clients. We are also finalising our catalogue of issues to a number of ministries,” Rakorong noted