Govt determined to push sector to new heights
Over the years, tourism has played second fiddle to the mining sector when it comes to plumping up the local economy.
However, although it continues to shine, the diamond industry is facing numerous challenges.
These include: fluctuating prices, global competition from other producers, reduced demand and the emergence of synthetic diamonds.
In light of this, President Mokgweetsi Masisi has reiterated the importance of fast-tracking the growth of the tourism industry as part of government’s economic diversification strategy.
Speaking at the Africa Tourism Leadership Forum in Gaborone this week, Masisi described tourism as a deep and wide value chain which offers numerous opportunities to a wide-range of Small Medium Enterprises (SMES).
The President pledged that Botswana would not only use the forum to drive intra-Africa tourism but also position herself as the continent’s leading Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) destination in the continent.
Attracting 43 countries from around the globe, the event ran from 24 – 26 October and was held under the theme ‘Igniting Intra-Africa tourism through inclusive intra-Africa trade, partnerships and Investments’.
Essentially, the forum, the fifth of its kind, seeks to provide a platform for exchanging ideas aimed at promoting travel to and around Africa.
“Tourism is major contributor to the national economy and has tremendous potential for growth. The government of Botswana is committed to growing the sector as part of its economic diversification strategy. Africa should also nurture its tourism economy so that it can promote inclusive growth, so that those who were previously disadvantaged are empowered in a meaningful way, which includes unlocking the true potential of SMES,” stated Masisi.
With the Covid-19 pandemic seemingly under control after two years of death and destruction, relaxed travel restrictions have seen the tourism industry recover slightly in 2022.
In their efforts to bolster the sector’s earning power, last year government introduced a new tourism-related policy.
Govt sought to create added value to the industry through: events tourism, cluster development, cultural tourism development, community project development and dam tourism.
“Botswana tourism adaptation of the value chain business is underpinned by the principles of citizen empowerment, job creation, tourism product diversification and investment growth as per the new policy. This policy emphasizes product development and diversification as a key driver of growth within the tourism industry and views the promotion of adventure and cultural tourism as an opportunity to attract more arrivals locally, regionally and globally to complement traditional wildlife offering. The move towards increased activity plays a pivotal role in our economy and in creating employment in various geographical locations,” said Masisi.