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Maun West Member of Parliament, Dumelang Saleshando has challenged government through the Civil Aviation Authority of Botswana (CAAB) to create a lasting impression for the busy Maun International Airport to meaningfully contribute to the economy of the tourism capital.
Saleshando is concerned that despite the airport being among the busiest in the SADC region, it contributes less to the economy of Maun as tourists only use it as a transit point into the Okavango Delta. The airport is said to have a capacity to facilitate traffic of up to 270 passengers that may be assisted in an hour.
It was recently refurbished at a tune of over 153 million pula with its terminal also extended from 649 to 2209 square meters to allow for large volumes of passengers, while the runway was increased to 3700 m to allow landing of larger aircrafts.
Speaking at its official opening recently, Saleshando posited that the airport is currently a transit point where multi-million dollar tourists pass through on their way into the Okavango delta, while Maun does not get any revenue from such.
He therefore challenged government to transform its transit arrangement to make it attractive for wealthy tourists to want to spend a night or two in Maun thus contributing to the growth of its economy. The MP said only a few out of those tourists who do not have a choice find themselves in Maun.
“We can do much better than where we are doing currently when it comes to airports that creates a lasting impression, this transit arrangement in an airport like Maun which attracts millionaires across the world can be resolved if we put our heads together,” Saleshando urged.
He noted that the challenge in civil aviation nowadays is to construct airports that give tourists a lasting impression. Saleshando therefore urged for Botswana to also focus on the same challenge and compete with international airports to mark its unique impression which will attract more tourists.
In his keynote address, President Mokgweetsi Masisi said the improvement of the airport is in line with the Reset Agenda which he said aims at creating a nation with functional infrastructure and systems that are globally competitive and attractive to foreign investors and tourists.
Meanwhile Masisi has indicated that most traffic in and out of Maun is from light aircraft transporting passengers into the Delta. According to him, the airport in 2021 recorded a total of 116 345 passengers while between January and October last year it recorded a total increase of 200 929.
Masisi emphasised that the refurbishment and expansion will therefore facilitate the expected increase in numbers of tourists coming to the delta as well as people who come to do business in Maun.