HATAB urged to exploit country’s int’l appeal

04th May 2017
Makgadikgadi Pans Source:The Midweek Sun


By Portia Nkani - Reporter


Local tourism operators have been urged to take advantage of the country’s international appeal to attract more tourists into the country. Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi said Friday when officially opening the Hospitality and Tourism Association of Botswana (HATAB) in Kasane.

This year’s conference was under the theme “the role of tourism sector in expanding economic opportunity in Botswana.”Currently Botswana hosts about nine shows amongst them the Qwihaba cultural festival, Khawa dune challenge, 1000 desert race, Makgadikgadi epic, Matsieng Airshow, World Strongest Man; which Masisi said have engendered a huge appetite from international tourists.  

This year’s Makgakgadi Epic is said to have seen an increase to 40 percent of European skydivers. “Tourism industry should be prepared with willingness as well as the capacity to receive tourists attracted to such events. “Let’s take advantage of the international appeal and start packaging and selling them internationally to the already thriving safari and wilderness product this country is so famously known for,” urged the Vice President.

He said that investing in opportunities in the hospitality and tourism sector will help put Botswana in a good position to host international conferences and events, thus taking the sector to unprecedented levels through tapping into new markets.

Botswana is well known for its wilderness safari in the northern part of the country particularly Kasane and Maun. Masisi said other areas in the Southern and Western part of the country remain untapped.  “The sector has a potential to expand. I urge HATAB to work with relevant institutions to develop a robust programme to mobilise members to adopt brochures that cater for various tourism products and activities.  

“This will ensure that both investors and communities derive benefits in our continued efforts to expand the tourism sector to make it more inclusive and more rewarding.” The Vice President urged operators to support the implementation of national policies, laws, adoption of best business practices, promoting consumer and business behaviour towards a more sustainable tourism sector that can contribute actively to the country’s SDGs.

HATAB chairman Thapelo Matsheka said there are obstacles within the tourism environment, “but we are pleased to note that there is progress in some of the outstanding issues of our members, such as leases and licences. “All is not so gloomy but as a lobby group we still have outstanding issues and we will continue to engage the government.” 

HATAB lobby for an enabling environment where members can all operate. Matsheka however said, they may not reach a conclusion in their discussions but they shall continue to engage. He urged HATAB members to work with communities within which they do business. Matsheka their members have so far contributed handsomely towards environment and conservation initiatives.

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