The Ministry of Environment Wildlife and Tourism has announced that it has not and will not ban self-drive tourists after there were allegations that the ministry had closed them out in the industry.
Principal public relations officer, Archibald Ngakayagae has called the allegations by tourists and local entrepreneurs false and uncalled for, but however indicated that the ministry had noticed that there are self-drive tourists, even foreign ones who illegally trade by playing tour guides in national parks and game reserves. He said that these illegal operators bring foreigners or their 'clients', while pretending to the officials at the gates to be with their families or companies.
Ngakayagae has complained that illegal operators act against the national parks and game reserve regulations and even degrade touring sides. "There are numerous self-drive tourists who disregard the National Parks Regulations by congesting in one area thereby exceeding limits, driving at night, driving off-road, littering and breaking other laws," he said.
He said that such practices cause congestion in some camping sites and even damage to the environment since they tour at night and move out of set tracks.
He revealed that the ministry has been in consultation with tourism stakeholders to control congestion in national parks, but they however never issued statements of banning self-drive tourists.
He revealed that stakeholders had called for speedy action on controlling illegal operators and to stop the degradation that they cause to the environment within national parks and game reserves. He however promised that the ministry would come up with solutions of how to curb the problem with regard to the socio economic impacts that they might have on locals and tourists at large.
Principal Tourism Officer, Mompati Rannekwa told Mmegi that it is however difficult to control this problem because self-drive tourists do not have to identify themselves at national park and game reserve gates. "If somebody tells you this is my family, how do you stop them from entering?" she said.
She revealed that identification difference between self-drive tourists and registered operators is that self-drive ones do not have a logo to identify themselves, while registered ones usually have a logo on the car windscreens.
She also said that they would not ban self-drive tourists as the industry is making money out of them. "Though they do not pay as much money as registered operators, they pay entry and camping fees," she said. She revealed that registered operators create employment and pay tax.