Gaborone — Government is working on ensuring that the country's natural resource endowment helps boost economy, create jobs and lift Batswana out of poverty.
Mr Thabang Botshoma, deputy permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism, and the director of Wildlife, Major General Otsisitswe Tiroyamodimo revealed this in an interview with BOPA.
Mr Botshoma said tourism had become one of the major sectors that contributed to the gross domestic product of Botswana, adding that government had worked on ensuring that Batswana benefit from this sector.
"We encourage Batswana to group themselves into syndicates since we have given them priority in the tourism sector. We urge citizens to develop business ideas, and we work with other stakeholders such as the National Development Bank and the Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency, to assist them," Mr Botshoma said.
He said they encouraged Batswana to partake in various areas of the tourism industry, not just the ownership of lodges, as tourism presented a myriad of commercial opportunities for innovative entrepreneurs.
For his part, Maj. Gen. Tiroyamodimo said community based natural resource management had proved to be a successful way in which communities could be empowered to take advantage of the country's conservation and tourism.
"There are different examples such as the Sankoyo Trust, Khama Rhino Sanctuary, Chobe Wildlife Trust and others which have proved to be quite successful. We also encourage communities to develop wildlife management areas outside game reserves and national parks," Maj. Gen. Tiroyamodimo said.
Mr Botshoma also revealed that government was working on the redevelopment of Kasane to become a quality regional tourism hub, with Maun also set to benefit from national spatial planning.
"Our long term objective is to get Kasane to be on par with other regional tourist centres such as Livingstone in Zambia. The Kazungula Bridge will also assist in getting the movement of tourists around the area and we wish to get better volume into Maun as well," Mr Botshoma said.
He said the Department of Tourism looked at the planning and policy framework pertaining to the sector, while the Botswana Tourism Organisation (BTO), an independently run parastatal established by the ministry, promotes Botswana as a tourist destination to people across the world.
Mr Botshoma said the ministry had been promoting event-based tourism, cultural tourism and conference tourism in addition to wildlife and conservation-area tourism.
"There has been a growth of event-based tourism in places such as Khawa and the Makgadikgadi Epic. Such events have the potential to benefit local communities immensely, as we have already noticed at Khawa.
They have also improved domestic tourism among local youth while also attracting non-citizens. Events such as Kuru, Dithubaruba and Domboshaba can also boost cultural tourism," Mr Botshoma said.
These initiatives are part of the government's priority areas (presidential pledge card), which include making job creation a number one priority and taking Batswana out of poverty.
Source : BOPA