Tourism Sector Bouncing Back

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The Chairperson of the Hospitality and Tourism Association of Botswana (HATAB), Joe Motse is adamant that the local tourism industry will recover following the devastating effects of Covid-19 over the past three years.

Motse was speaking at the just ended HATAB annual Conference held in Kasane under the theme, “Rebuilding Tourism for the Future; Post Covid-19.”

The Conference brought together captains of the industry and senior government officials including cabinet ministers who deliberated on burning issues that hinders the sector.

“We have had a quite challenging three-year period where we didn’t know where we were going and whether we will be here today,” he stressed.

Motse lamented that they have lost quite considerable amount of business during the period of the pandemic.

To highlight this loss, Botswana Tourism Organisation had in their April 2020 survey of Covid-19 established that 97 percent of tourism facilities were closed during the pandemic period.

BTO’s Marketing Manager, Keitumetse Setlang said a few of those that remained open were basically dealing with postponements of bookings.

She noted that the closure rate was much higher than 97% looking at the fact that sectors that provide services for the industry were also affected.

Setlang further indicated that some employees were put on unpaid leave while some worked a few days in a month and this affected the livelihoods of many families.  

That as it may, then HATAB Chairman is however optimistic that the sector will soon rebound based on the indicators that they see across the country.

“But we can only be glad to say that as you go around Botswana today, we see a lot of movement and the industry is waking up and we believe that if we keep on going in this track we will be back on our feet, and for that we are grateful,” Motse hoped.

However, the recovery of the industry, United Nations World Tourism Organisation forecast that the industry will only get back to the numbers it had in 2019 during the year 2025. Locally on average the country has been hosting about 2 million visitors annually, but in 2020 Botswana only hosted around 358 000 translating to an 80% decline of people visiting the country.

Motse said it is important to applaud all the industry partners and investors and staff for having been able to pull through the difficult times.

“As an industry, we came together 2 years ago and drafted Covid protocols in partnership with government and we were able to implement those protocols and they have helped us survive to date. We are thankful to government because when the bell rang, all of us were able to put together to do that, without that we would not have been able to do what we do today,” the Chairman appreciated.

For her part Minister of Environment and Tourism Philda Kereng commended the industry together with government for building capacity to recover and start running again.

“You were so resolute during Covid 19 that in your minds you knew one day we will rise again,” she applauded.

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