The SPEDU North West Tourism Expo that was held in Maun this week was about exposing locally produced goods to the lucrative tourism industry in Ngamiland with a view to promote trade between producers and the sector.
Following the SPEDU market expo held in October this year in Selebi Phikwe, the tourism requested for a joint initiative for business in the area to showcase to the tourism industry in Maun, with an objective for the sector to appreciate products produced locally.
About 50 companies from both the SPEDU and Ngamiland participated in this week’s expo, which is believed to have stimulated trade between the tourism sector and businesses in the SPEDU region.
Against this background, the various government departments and parastatals saw the need to help producers in the two regions of SPEDU and Ngamiland to penetrate the tourism supply value chain.
Speaking during the expo, which was held at Sedia Hotel, Acting CEO SPEDU Jazenga Uezeza said objectives of the event centred on bringing buyers and potential sellers together to expose products produced locally to the local market. This is part of SPEDU’s mandate of taking its clients’ products to markets.
He said this was also in line with government’s expectation on the private sector to play ball in the buying local drive. The Expo thus provide an enabling environment for the private sector to fall through the initiative. He also indicated that they hope for various regions in Botswana to trade among themselves with the different products and services, and market the same. The Expo also provided an opportunity for the realignment of government machinery to support businesses in Botswana while at the same time encouraging diversification – creating further investment links within the country.
In his keynote address, Entrepreneurship minister Karabo Gare highlighted the importance of the tourism sector as a major contributor to the economy, adding that ‘it only makes sence to create supplier linkages to tap into the industry.
“As proven by the exhibits here today the industry provides unlimited opportunities for various sectors like agriculture and manufacturing which can be factored into its value chain’ Gare noted.
Gare further indicated that the Expo does not only provide marketing and sales prospects, as it also policy makers to various industry gaps, that if addressed could create a conducive business environment for the entrepreneurs.
“I therefore urge these companies to take heed of their product quality, reliability as well as availability to ensure a sustainable relationship with customers.”
The Expo, according to Gare, the SPEDU North West tourism Expo is one of the government’s efforts to promote, support and market awareness of locally produced good.
He further indicated that such events will be scheduled for the various districts throughout the country in 2023.
“As a review, refocus and align to the presidential reset agent, which stresses a private led economy, I urge the private sector to take the lead in supporting locally manufactured goods.”
Meanwhile Hospitality and Tourism Association of Botswana (HATAB) Chairman Joe Motse has applauded the initiative for the Expo as a progressive development, however he echoed the industry firm believe that government has to make sure the environment is conducive for their sector to thrive. He opined that for as long as uncertainty hangs over the industry the sector cannot thrive. Motse highlighted issues of dilapidated road infrastructure, transport infrastructure, accessibility and issues of leases that have not been renewed as such areas that frustrates the industry.