Fast tract tourism policies – Dr Matsheka

28th June 2018
HATAB Chairperson, Dr Thapelo Matsheka Source:The Midweek Sun


By Sun Reporter - Reporter

Chairperson of the Executive Committee for Hospitality and Tourism Association of Botswana (HATAB), Dr Thapelo Matsheka is appealing for the fast tracking of the revision of policies and legislative instruments that have either been overtaken by events or are now impediments to the development of the tourism industry.

Dr Matsheka was speaking at the 2018 Hatab Annual Conference in Maun last week. Among the pieces of legislature that Dr Matsheka sighted are the Tourism Policy of 1991, Tourism Master-Plan of 2000, Wildlife and National Parks Act, Environment Impact Assessment Act and Regulations, as well as other related documents.

“These need to be modernised as they are the necessary tools needed to enable the industry to meet customer expectations in the modern world,” he said.
Matsheka is worried that failure to bring them in line with modern and new ways of doing business has contributed to the lack of diversification of products offering and in the ultimate, slowed the necessary job creation opportunities.

He said Botswana continues to be behind in the provision of up to date statistics in the tourism sector and this makes it difficult for potential investors to assess current market status and future growth potential. “Those that have already invested are also affected, as it is difficult to make expansion plans,” Dr Matsheka said, adding that it is important that concerted efforts are made to bring the above to date, and be able to empower those that have the mandate to attract investors into tourism, with the necessary tools to do so.

Dr Matsheka further said government also needs to continuously assess and openly discuss new initiatives with industry players. “As HATAB, we have aired our concerns on the government unilateral increase on participation fees at Travel Market Fairs,” he said, adding that they are confident that the national basket will also benefit through industry participation at fairs through increased visits to Botswana and in the ultimate, taxation received through company collections.

HATAB is concerned by the recent decision by the government to withdraw its membership from the Regional Tourism Organisation of Southern Africa RETOSA, a subsidiary of SADC without consultation with industry partners. Dr Matsheka says surprisingly, this decision was taken at the time that Botswana was elected by RETOSA to the office of Chairperson.

The decision, according to Dr Matsheka was taken while the country is actively participating in other regional efforts to promote regional integration in the SADC region. HATAB further gave government a challenge to continue to ensure that the environment in Botswana remains healthy for private sector participation, and that all policies are aligned.

“We also call upon authorities to align all issues pertaining to concessions and their renewal and or allocation. We have noted that there is increasing delay in processing such application, and when processed, industry often notes that there is inconsistency in the conditions of operation,” Dr Matsheka said. For instance, some are given automatic renewal while others are subjected to a tender process at the end of their tenure. “All this, casts uncertainties on investor confidence as well as creating a perceived preferential treatment of some over others.”

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