Tourism Cluster Initiative To Boost Competiveness

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In a significant move aimed at diversifying the economy and enhancing the country’s competitiveness, the Botswana government through the ministry of environment and tourism has embraced the cluster development initiative. This strategic approach aims to foster collaboration among companies, boost business productivity, and drive value chain development, ultimately contributing to a thriving private sector-led economy.

Tourism, beef and finance are among the three key sectors targeted for cluster development, with tourism leading the way. The Bojanala Tourism Cluster Stakeholder and Exchange hosted in Maun this week, brought together local chefs, trainers, and government officials to deliberate on strategies for nurturing homegrown culinary talent with the objectives; to produce skilled culinary professionals who can contribute to the region’s gastronomic scene.

Under this objective, participants engaged in discussions about the modalities of creating a specialised curriculum to train local chefs.

Furthermore, participants engaged in the theoretical knowledge sharing with accomplished chefs shared their theoretical expertise with trainees and fellow practitioners. This knowledge exchange aimed to elevate the overall culinary understanding within the cluster. The workshop emphasised more on practical skills where chefs demonstrated their culinary prowess, showcasing techniques, flavor combinations, and presentation styles. Trainees and trainers alike benefited from these hands-on sessions.

Giving his keynote address, department of cluster development (DCD Deputy Director Gofaone Mosiakgabo revealed that the Bojanala Tourism Cluster is part of a broader initiative to boost Botswana’s microeconomic competitiveness, thus the reason for the adoption of a cluster development model to revamp the nation’s economic landscape in 2012, indicating that this model focuses on collaboration among related businesses within specific sectors.

Mosiakgabo further revealed that the cluster strategies have already been developed for the beef tourism, Finance and Knowledge Intensive Business Services (F&KIBS) sectors, adding that recently, the Small Stock Strategy (SSS) was also formulated by the Ministry of Agriculture in December 2021 for implementation and progress.

“The Bojanala tourism cluster strategy, along with the beef and F&KIBS clusters, was crafted in 2018 with the implementation process began in 2019. Unfortunately, progress stalled for three years due to a shortage of human resource. However, the recent establishment of the cluster development office under the ministry of entrepreneurship, along with the appointment of a cluster coordinator within the Botswana Tourism Organization (BTO) in 2023, reaffirms the government’s commitment to cluster reinforcement,” he indicated.

Furthermore, Mosiakgabo emphasised that the clusters thrive on private sector leadership, with the government to ensure a conducive business environment, indicating that the Bojanala tourism cluster will be at the forefront of implementing action lines. Lessons learned from previous strategies will guide to roll out new cluster initiatives.

Botswana Tourism Organization (BTO) Acting Executive Manager for Investment and Product Tshepho Mmokele emphasised that the ministry of environment and tourism entrusted them (BTO) with the critical task of leading the implementation of the tourism cluster initiative and that their expertise and commitment has been instrumental in driving this transformative agenda

He further revealed that the government’s adoption of the cluster development initiative aims to diversify the economy and enhance Botswana’s competitiveness by nurturing local talent, fostering collaboration, and promoting culinary excellence, indicating that the Bojanala tourism cluster is poised to play a pivotal role in shaping the region’s future.

According to Mmokele, their role is pivotal in executing the strategy and extending the cluster model to other tourism areas adding that the Ngamiland tourism cluster, with its collaborative spirit and forward-thinking approach, promises to elevate Botswana’s tourism industry and contribute significantly to the nation’s economic growth.

“As we celebrate this milestone, we look forward to witnessing the positive impact of this initiative on our country,” indicating that since July 2023, BTO has been working in the region. The cluster has convened several meetings to revisit the strategy and adjust the action lines as needed. These adaptations consider recent developments and ensure the cluster’s resilience and relevance.

Bojanala Tourism Cluster and Strategy Coordinator Temalo Lesetlhe revealed that their main primary objective is to reinforce the competitiveness of the value chain of the tourism cluster in the district by improving their strategic position in the long term.

Furthermore, the coordinator emphasised that they will adapt industry related policies and programs to respond more effectively to companies strategic needs, indicating that at the center of it all, human resources are the fuel that will power competitiveness of the Ngamiland tourism value chain.

“We will identify specific skills gaps in order to implement work-based training pilot projects,” adding that they will identify gaps or skills shortage to address as well as design road map to enhance current curriculum in 3 selected areas of knowledge, sitting work-based training programs and adjustment of curricula and work-based learning.

Lesetlhe further indicated that they will also design and launch pilot projects with specific activities and goals, identify experts and global allies as well as define clear roles and responsibilities of all involved parties.

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