Gov’t To Purge Bad Investors In Tourism

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“The Board will among other things clean out the industry – take out bad players, and keep the best. It also serves to promote the interests of Batswana first and foremost.”

  • New board led by the President is being set –up
  • Botswana Economic Development Board (BEDB) to address investment bottlenecks
  • Masisi says board will also root out bad investors
  • Tourism industry won’t be spared

A high level board, Botswana Economic Development Board (BEDB) that is being set up by government will among other functions address bottlenecks affecting the investment climate in the country, while at the same time purging bad investors from various sectors – among them tourism.

The establishment of the board was announced by President Mokgweetsi Masisi on Friday at the Hospitality and Tourism Association of Botswana (HATAB) annual conference in Maun.

Masisi informed the industry that the board will be led at the highest level by himself, and will, “deal expeditiously with any regulatory bottlenecks and delays that investors including those in the tourism sector encounter from time to time.”

“The Board will among other things clean out the industry – take out bad players, and keep the best. It also serves to promote the interest of Botswana first and foremost,” Masisi said.

While in his remarks HATAB chairman Joe Motse had as has become norm every conference, catalogued a litany of issues, mostly repeats that concerned the industry, and top of the list being lease renewals, Masisi assured the industry that all those will be dealt with by the new board.

“I can confirm that issues of leases will be cleared out quickly. I had had a meeting with the minister of lands on the matter.”

Further, the board will be charged with attracting investment into Botswana, while ensuring that the investment climate in the country is second to none. He said the work of the board will be informed by that which the Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC) does.

“But we expect reciprocity, we expect investors to respect the laws, land the people, and secondly give back, that’s all we ask, make Botswana and Batswana happy,” he said.

But Masisi warned that any investor who does not reciprocate as the government desires will not be allowed to operate.

There has been uncertainty among some operators in the tourism industry that government may have something up its sleeves especially where the renewal leases was not forthcoming. The delays of leases meant they could not re-build or refurbish their camps and lodges

Since ascending to the Presidency in 2018, Masisi made his intentions known about his plans to change the sector to ensure citizens benefitted meaningfully from the country’s resources. This was followed by some changes and reviews in various policies and legislations that put locals at the forefront.

The tourism industry has of late been walking on eggshells as government’s discomfort about some players in the tourism industry was communicated in a blanket form, leaving everyone on the edge.

Government has also of recently spoken out about possible leakages in the tourism. Lately the industry has also decried the vegetable importation ban which has resulted in challenges to consistent supply. This the industry maintains it affects its businesses in terms of meeting the food expectation of their guests.

Masisi announcement of the board and its mandate during his keynote address at the Hatab conference was a bitter sweet pill for especially those operators that may be in the government’s radar of bad investors. The good news for the industry for among other things he announced that the new committee, chaired by him, will address the issues of lease renewals, work permits, vegetable importation ban and also remove bad players in the tourism industry.

While at it Masisi informed the industry players government only expects the industry to give back, meaningfully to the communities from which they operate.

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