- Tour operators demand collection of firewood in parks
- Threatens to retrench if proposed fees go in place
The Director of Department of Wildlife and National Parks issued a directive in mid 2010 about cessation of firewood collection in all National Parks and Game Reserves.
The move has now rubbed mobile Safari operators the wrong way and in a recent consultative meeting with Wildlife Environment and Climate Change Parliamentary Portfolio Committee, Botswana Guides Association (BOGA) and Botswana Tourism, the safari operators complained that it is impossible for them to carry enough firewood to last long on a safari expedition.
The Chairperson for BOGA Kenson Kgaga said that when looking at the stoppage of firewood collection in all the National Parks and Game Reserves, it is important to consider that a campfire is central to safaris.
“Sitting around the campfire and listening to the sounds of the wild while being entertained by the guide is a major highlight for any tourist who comes on a safari but making it unfeasible for companies to provide this critical component of the safari detracts guests’ experience.”
He said that the move also hinders them the ability to compete as one of Africa’s premier safari destination. He requested that the ban be lifted so that they may be allowed to collect firewood on a more ecologically sustainable way. Kgaga also said that they are forced to buy firewood from people along the road and by looking at the amount piled along it shows that it is creating a problem somewhere.
Kgaga also complained of the proposed park fees increase saying it threatens the tourism industry. “The proposed park fees increase will slowly threaten the local economy because tourism heavily relies on the Self Drive Tourist.”
He said that their worry is that small business owners will encounter heavy losses if the park fees are increased as proposed by the same department.
He said that the proposed park fees are considerably high when compared to that of neighbouring countries and that it may scare away tourists. He explained that self drive market is considered as a big part of congestion and tourists contribute to the local economy and driving them away through exceptionally high prices may have wider effects.
Some of the proposed fees are P600 per landing on Botswana registered aircraft, P500 for each citizen staff entry and park entry fees for self drive is increased from P120 to P700 at Chobe River Front. Kgaga said that the prices will force them to retrench some of their staff to reduce paying high fees. “We can’t afford to pay for our employees to go inside parks which are their working place.”
The Parliament committee consist its Chairperson, Member of Parliament (MP) for Maun East Frank Ramsden, Mp for Francistown South Wynter Mmolotsi, Mp for Kweneng South East Mmoloki Raletobana, Mp for Kgalagadi South John Toto, Mp for Ngami Taolo Habana and Mp for Boteti North Slumber Tsogwane.