The Voice (Francistown)

8 April 2008

Botswana: Tourism - Ranking worries BNPC

Francistown — The Botswana National Productivity Centre (BNPC)'s acting Executive Director of Tourism, Leslie Tlhalerwa, has said that if the 2007 World Economic Forum tourism rating of Botswana is 87 out of 130 countries and is taken literally, confusion could arise given the fact that the same report talks positively about local tourism destinations.

In a speech read on his behalf by Dabilani Buthali, the BNPC Information Research Services Manager, Tlhalerwa said: "According to the World Economic Forum report on Travel and Tourism Global Competitiveness, Botswana is ranked 87 out of 130 countries in its 2008 Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index. That is worrying given the fact that the same report talks positively about tourism destinations in Botswana. In fact, in the same report, Botswana is in the top half with the best tourism destinations.

"The nagging question is that if we have some of the best tourism destinations in the world, why should we be number 87 in terms of global ranking? Some answers to this question are, however, elaborated in the same report."

Elaborating during a breakfast seminar held in Gaborone last week, Buthali said that the low-ranked rating has to do with the challenges confronting the local tourism industry, ranging from lack of access to modern communication technologies, poor hygiene standards, poor roads and communications. Of significance in the people-centered promotion of productivity, are the issues of attitudes raised in the World Economic Forum report. "If we are to provide services and products in the tourism sector, we need to interrogate the manner in which services and products are delivered to our clients, both current and prospective. Shouldn't industry leaders such as us be striving to do something about the manner in which clients are treated in our respective offices and companies?"

He said that the tourism report also cited HIV/AIDS as a raging challenge in Botswana, because it affects the workforce as a people-management vice. "As we think about ways of improving our industries, can we all ponder what initiatives our companies have developed to fight HIV in the workplace? Do we have deliberate policies ... that facilitate access to information, knowledge, counseling and treatment where necessary?"

The tourism sector has tremendous economic potential of creating employment and improving the living standards of Batswana. For instance, in 2005, the sector created 23 000 jobs broken down as one-in-ten-jobs countrywide and attracted over two million visitors, challenging service providers to give the best packages, etiquette and opportunities. Due to the significant increase in spending, the economy was able to diversify from the traditional revenue earners such as diamonds and beef and raised the contribution to its current level of about 10 per cent.

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