Government is currently finalizing the review of the National Tourism Policy, which was formulated in 1990, amidst concerns of neglect from the local participants in the industry.
Commenting during the stakeholder briefing last week, Botswana Tourism Organisation (BTO) Chairman Laurence Khupe said Government recognizes the diamond industry ahead of tourism although tourism is the second contributor to GDP. “If you look at linkages, government funding is significantly low. If you look at the roads there are potholes, clearly government is failing somewhere,” said Khupe.
However, he said under the new policy, government will provide financial resources for tourism development and improve its financial contribution to tourism. “All the concerns are noted and we are sure that under the new policy there will be increased funding for tourism marketing and promotion and the development of infrastructure,” said Khupe.
The new draft policy states that government realizes that the sector is narrowly focused on wildlife and wilderness tourism. The development, diversification and expansion of tourism attractions and experiences are prerequisites for the nation to expand its market reach and share.
In her presentation, Botswana Tourism Organization Acting Business Operation Manager, Bigani Setume highlighted that there is a need for tourism investment and business expansion. “We are going to develop a framework of incentives to facilitate investments that meet strategic criteria such as investment in rural areas and investment in diversified products such as cultural and heritage tourism, adventure and sports tourism as well as community based tourism.”
According to the new draft policy, joint ventures between citizens and foreigners have been extremely limited. “Very few tourism related companies have floated their shares for wider citizen participation, community owned and operated ventures have generally not proven successful due to a lack of entrepreneurial drive,” reads the paper.
The paper also states that government will facilitate formation of tourism sector clusters which will be formed by private sector entities and supported by government to promote collective efficiencies and to heighten product and destination competitiveness.