Mokaila to ‘open up’ tourism industry to locals

The Minister of Environment, Natural Resources, Conservation and Tourism, Kitso Mokaila has promised to effect radical improvements to the tourism sector.

Speaking at his welcome event by Cresta Hotels at Cresta Lodge in Gaborone on Wednesday, Mokaila who returned to the tourism ministry in December last year after a cabinet reshuffle said that he called for active participation of citizens in the industry.

“Not just reserved at the bottom, but at the very top of tourism, including lodges in the delta, and the team is currently working overtime, putting together a document, to ensure we see this thing through cabinet as a matter of urgency,” said the minister.

“Before the general elections in October this year, government would have tendered out ‘quite a few’ concessions in the delta,” he noted

Concerning the Botswana Tourism Organization (BTO), Mokaila said that the confusion that surrounded the organization’s role in the past would not be repeated.

“There has been confusion in the past in terms of the role of BTO, hosting events that competed with that of the private sector, which I can assure you, would not happen,” Mokaila emphasized.

Furthermore, the minister revealed that there would be a revision of all the marketing and trade fairs that Botswana has been taking part in abroad.

He says the intention is for BTO to help locals to understand how to market themselves, and make it possible for them to reach markets that they otherwise would not be able to reach.

The minister noted that work is ongoing behind the scenes in terms of tourism policies and BTO strategies, which he explained would ensure that the tourism industry becomes inclusive.

Mokaila also spoke about a “ repackaging of the way Botswana tourism is sold to the world, which will ensure that right at the heart of the message, people are not forgotten.”

“Part of why we are under attack is that we have sold Botswana as flora and fauna, rather than having people at the centre. So, we will have to very strongly rebrand ourselves and Botswana to say that the flora and fauna are there because of the people,” remarked the tourism minister.

Mokaila says the world needs to know that Batswana suffer because of wildlife, adding that livelihoods of the locals have been compromised a lot.

“We would not back off and change our minds about what we are going to do,” Mokaila charged.

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