Monday, May 04, 2015

Take home lessons from the HATAB Conference

The Hospitality and Tourism Association of Botswana (HATAB) held its annual conference in Kasane - A key event in the tourism sector that the Minister of Tourism has ‘snubbed’ since 2012, at least according to HATAB chairman Dr. Thapelo Matsheka.

Matsheka did not only speak on how as HATAB they value the Minister’s attendance but went on to state quite a number of frustrations that the sector is facing. The conference termed such as ‘catalogue of issues’. This catalogue of issues lists quite a number of business impediments which entails operating under a 25 year old policy while the master plan was also last reviewed some 15 years.

Now this explains why we have always had the view that our country’s tourism potential is undervalued. The outdated policy and master plan are complementing other factors such as high prices, under-investments as well as little effort that is made to stimulate domestic tourism. A take away lesson from Matsheka’s welcome speech is that we remain a ‘talk more’, ‘act less’ nation. This is so because apart from operating with old fashioned documents, in most cases half of such recommendations are hardly implemented thus hindering the potential growth.

However there is no single doubt that the tourism sector has significant potential to grow our economy. One of our take-home from the HATAB conference is that whilst the Botswana Tourism Organisation is doing a good job of marketing Botswana’s tourism services in the global media, three other areas require urgent attention. One is the diversification of the product’s emphasis on wildlife; culture, for instance, is an option. The second is enhancing the sector’s capacity to provide services. The third is reforming the management of the tourism sector to ensure that a greater proportion of the tourism revenue is retained in the country.

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