Maun — Community-based tourism is meant to empower local communities and enable them to harness the potential of resources found within the vicinity of their areas for survival.
It is believed to promote and provide improved livelihoods for rural areas but some communities have not yet realised the benefits of it despite continued efforts by government to empower them.
Xaixai community in the Ngamiland District has not yet benefited to the maximum despite efforts by government to provide facilities to empower Xaixai Tlhabologo Community Trust to implement tourism activities in and around Gcwhihaba National Monument.
The facilities include a gatehouse with ablution block constructed by Xai Xai community in partnership with the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources, Conservation and Tourism through Ipelegeng programme.
There were also campsites built by Botswana Tourism Organisation, a borehole provided by De Wet Drilling while the concession boreholes were provided by United Nations Development Programme .
All the facilities were officially handed to the trust in 2014 and aimed to enhance the diversification of tourism products in Ngamiland.
In an interview, Kgosi Nxuka Xishee said they were still looking forward to benefit a lot from tourism adding that they had pinned their hopes on the community trust which had ventured into photographic tourism and also operates camp sites.
"We are hopeful that as time goes on, the trust will be able to generate more income and eventually the community will gain meaningfully from tourism," she added.
She thanked government for making the place more visible by developing tourism facilities which she said would go a long way in attracting more tourists hence more revenue for the trusts.
The Trust manager, Mr Eric Keharara explained that currently, they were struggling to generate more income because there was no business. He associated lack of business with inadequate marketing of the area adding that marketing was only done through word of mouth.
He also noted that the facilities had not been operational since the handing over noting that "we started operation last year hence people were not forth coming to explore our facility and Gcwihaba caverns,"he added.
Gcwihaba caves, located 36km south east of Xai-xai village are rated amongst the most extraordinary in the world.
Gcwihaba is a fascinating underground labyrinthe of caverns and pits, linked passages, fantastical stalagmite and stalactite formations, and beautifully coloured flow stones that appear like waterfalls of rock.
Mr Keharara explained that the delay to operate the facility was due to financial constraints to hire staff.
Furthermore, he explained that they intended to intensify their marketing strategy through the assistance of Botswana Tourism Organization so that they could attract more tourists. He also appealed to Batswana who were adventurous to visit the place and enjoy a unique ecosystem of flora and fauna that had been found at Gcwihaba.
He also urged them to come and enjoy the rich culture of the Xaixai community which had become a major player in tourism sector in the Gcwihaba site.
Basarwa and Baherero culture has been the pillar of tourism attraction in Xaixai as they always showcase their rich culture through songs, poems and dance.
Mr Keharara also thanked the government through the Office of the President for being instrumental in promoting community based tourism in their area noting that they helped a lot in identification of caves.
He noted that efforts were on going through the assistance of the President to identify more potential caverns at the area to lure more tourists to the site.
Source : BOPA