Botswana can learn a lot from neighbour South Africa to improve its tourism sector, the President of the Botswana Confederation of Commerce Industry and Manpower (BOCCIM), Alex Monchusi, has noted.
Addressing delegates at the opening of South Africa Tourism Week at the South African High Commission in Gaborone yesterday, Mochusi said Botswana needs to cooperate with South Africa on a sustainable joint tourism venture.
"South Africa is the largest tourism earner in the region," he said. "Clearly, Botswana can learn a lot from its neighbour, and the potential for joint ventures and affiliations between the two countries is substantial." Monchusi said many sectors had been explored through a number of delegation visits and meetings between Botswana and South Africa while the tourism sector's potential remained unexplored.
He cited the 2010 Soccer World Cup in South Africa for its potential to provide a huge platform for tourism in Botswana, though very little was achieved during the global soccer spectacular itself. Monchusi said though attention was brought to the southern African region, a lot more could have been done to attract tourists to Botswana.
At the end of the World Cup last year, Visa International revealed that at a total value of $7.47 million (R56 million), Botswana was among the biggest African spenders during the month-long tournament.
Monchusi said this gave even more reason for collaboration between the two countries in tourism. A cross-border tourism policy to increase cross border trade and joint ventures, as well as provide long-term innovative and sustainable expansion projects should be in the two neighbours vision and agenda.
Monchusi called for a paradigm shift from country to
Tourism had a positive impact on employment creation and poverty alleviation, and it helped create recognition and awareness about a country's cultural heritage and potential investment opportunities.
Monchusi said BOCCIM had an important role to play by creating a platform for the tourism sector to thrive."BOCCIM's mandate, which is to advocate for a conducive business environment where the business climate is favourable to local and international investors, cannot be emphasised as a critical link between the private sector and government," he said. He singled out e-business as one area that had been lacking behind, though it could have a significant impact on the tourism sector where internet marketing and online booking was still a challenge, leaving Botswana behind other competitive markets. Monchusi said though Botswana had recently made headway in infrastructural development in the tourism sector, there was still a need to improve air links between Botswana and South Africa.
It was equally essential for the two countries to ensure that a regional tourism visa was in place as soon as possible. Mochusi pointed out that in terms of the market, Botswana still had untapped potential in eco and adventure tourism, including culture and heritage explorations.