HOPEFUL: Lily Rakorong

From : Thevoicebw.com

By : Staff Reporter

20 April 2012

As the day set for the Hospitality and Tourism Association of Botswana(HATAB) Annual Conference, the organisation’s acting CEO, Lily Rakorong says “this year’s conference, the focus is on commitment and action on addressing the challenges facing the tourism sector”.

The theme for this year’s conference is “Unleashing Economic Potential through Tourism,” and according to Rakorong the conference is scheduled for the 27- 28 April 2012 in the tourism town of Kasane. A sizeable number of stakeholders from public, private and Non Governmental Organizations have already confirmed their attendance.

Asked what her expectations of the conference outcome are apart from networking opportunities and the usual discussions which often tend to revolve around the same issues that plague the industry every year, Rakorong said, “For some years now,  HATAB have called for implementation on resolutions that are necessary for providing a conducive environment for tourism trade. However, progress has been slow.
This year’s conference, HATAB, calls on the relevant stakeholders to act and address bottlenecks and red-tape in order to assist the tourism sector to play a meaningful role in Botswana economic diversification drive.

For the past years, the tourism sector has faced challenges that have hindered progress and performance”.
This time around HATAB goes to the conference with the expectation that after so many years of hosting this platform for discussions and interaction by stakeholders across different sectors, “commitment and action will be key.”

“ At HATAB, we believe that both the public and private sector are at a stage where we all know what needs to happen, hence the call for action”, quipped Rakorong whose organisation turns 30 years in two months time.
Some of the worrisome issues that have been discussed at length at past HATAB conferences without any practical solutions include the facilitation of visa, work and residence permits and the harmonisation of licences, especially for safari companies.
“Safari business operators have to carry multiple licences that expire at different times; this is not only cumbersome but also not ideal for business. We expect to hear feedback on action taken on such issues, ” Rakorong stated, adding that expectations are also high on the update of the 2008 tourism draft policy.

Emphasising the interrelatedness of all economic sectors to the tourism industry and therefore the need for joint effort to improve the industry, Rakorong said: “tourism is cross cutting, and if we all within our different ministries, departments, organizations can work together, and develop the regulatory framework that is supportive, tourism will thrive. Our sector rely on services and products of other sectors. For example, if service experience is bad at point of entry- border entry or airport, it impacts negatively on tourism and we are also concerned about our country’s competitiveness ranking, which has dropped.” Rakorong cautioned.
HATAB which currently boasts 182 members  from different tourism sectors that includes air chatters, airlines, camps and lodges, hotels, self catering apartments, guest houses, tour operators, services and conservation and wildlife. HATAB’s mandate is to provide advocacy and lobbying for its members.