Maun: The reviewed ecotourism guidelines for forest reserves will be implemented this year, a deputy director in the Ministry of Environment Wildlife and Tourism has said.
Rapelang Mojaphoko told the Botswana Guides Association (BOGA) Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Maun Lodge recently that the implementation will result in the opening up of the reserves for tourism activities.
She explained that opening up the forests reserves will help tour operators in diversifying their tourism product. She said the contribution of the tourism sector to the Gross National Product continues to be below its potential due to lack of diversification in the sector.
“The contribution of the tourism sector to the GDP in 2009 was a mere 3.7 %. The sector is underperforming as it has the potential of contributing more than 10 % to GDP annually,” she said. Mojaphoko said there is need for the industry to embark on product diversification and tap into all available opportunities and innovations to unlock the potential.
She expressed regret about Botswana’s slippage in global competitiveness as per the World Economic Forum Report on Travel and Tourism. “Our weakest link is that of work ethic. This poses a challenge for all key players to address this weakness individually and collectively,” she said.
|Fast fact about Ecotourism:|
|What is Ecotourism?||Ecotourism is responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and sustains the well-being of local people|
She disclosed that the Revised Tourism Policy will go to Parliament this year. She said this is a sign of the government’s effort to create a conducive environment for sector growth. Speaking during the AGM, Bigani Setume from the Botswana Tourism Organisation, called on the Citizen Entrepreneurial Agency (CEDA) to introduce a financing product targeting the tourism sector. She said a majority of BOGA members are tour operators who need to be helped to acquire assets that appreciate in value.
“Currently the majority of mobile businesses operate at a risk because they just own vehicles and tents as assets. CEDA needs to come on board to help these small businesses on assets like campsites and lodges that appreciate in value,” she said. She said the recently introduced integrated farming policy will enable some tour operators to use their ploughing fields for tourism activities.
By: BONIFACE KEAKABETSE
Date: 22 May 2013