Nam, Bots to co-operate on tourism
Gaborone – The Namibia Tourism Board chairperson, Digu //Naobeb hassaid his organisation and Botswana Tourism Association are collaborating on bilateral issues. He was speaking at a conference of the Hospitality and Tourism Association of Botswana (HATAB) over the weekend in Maun. The conference was held under the theme ‘’Unlocking the Tourism Potential’’. According to //Naobeb, tourism inspectorate teams recently met and had informal meetings and this will pave way for harmonizing cross-border tourism operations. Giving a keynote address at the same event the Minister of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism, Kitso Mokaila urged the private sector, to become supportive to the government’s Economic Diversification Drive (EDD) and poverty eradication. “I challenge you to empower communities you are operating in, not just by joint venture arrangements but by actual projects where the communities can take a role in the operations of the ventures. Remember, had it not been for conservation of the resources by these communities, we would not have the pristine environment we enjoy today.” He revealed that some tourism activities will be reserved for citizens. “The reservation will enable meaningful entry, participation and growth of citizens in the tourism industry. These activities include domestic guest lodges, mobile safaris, motorboats, tourist transfers, camps and caravan site and mekoro,” said Mokaila. He said the arrangement gears at unlocking opportunities for citizens’ participation in the sector and he added that the New Tourism Act has introduced domestic guest houses and discussions with the Ministry of Lands and Housing have been concluded and approved. “Citizens will have to be licensed and comply with the set standards as they will be expected to at least attain one star grading for domestic guests houses. In the near future, we will have no compromise on standards,” said Mokaila. Minister Mokaila said the tourism industry has grown tremendously from 620 visitors in 1994 to close to two million tourists in 2009, adding that the industry showed resilience during recession as it did not shed jobs.