The Botswana Qualifications Authority (BQA) has awarded licences to only 240 guides out of 1 652 applications. The shock announcement was made late last week when the BQA assessment officer, Emmanuel Chimbombi, told this to the HATAB annual conference in Kasane after many complaints from tour guides about the new grading system introduced by BQA.
The conference took place at the art of the traditional holiday season which attracts thousands of foreign tourists keen to experience the Botswana bush and wildlife. He admitted that guides had labelled the system as unreasonable and an obstacle to their profession. Some of the affected guides had been working in the Botswana bush for more than 20 years. Some of the new conditions included swimming and whether or not a guide had confronted wild animals.
A professional tour guide, Grant Nel, had complained at the conference about the criteria used for assessing them and questioned the credibility of the assessors. “The problem is that we are being assessed by people who do not know anything about the industry. They are not qualified to assess us hence their competency is questionable,” he said.
Another guide, who also owns Dreams Safaris, Mist Setaung, said one of the conditions set by the BQA is an itinerary for safaris but it did not make sense as guides were never involved in planning itineraries. “Itineraries do not involve guides. They simply implement what is already written on the itinerary provided,” he argued.