Tsodilo — President Lt Gen. Dr Seretse Khama Ian Khama has on Friday officially opened Tsodilo Rhino Trail Staircase.
The Tsodilo Rhino Trail Staircase was funded by Diamond Trust at a tune of P1 million, being one of the developments at the Tsodilo World Heritage Site and in the village as part of the long standing partnership between Tsodilo community and Diamond Trust, which started in 2010.
Speaking at the event, Minister of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism, Mr Tshekedi Khama said the official opening of the project happened during the international year of sustainable tourism for development, which calls for utilising tourism to attain sustainable development goals. He said it was important that tourism destinations in the country were run at high standard to compete in the world market.
On another issue, the minister said according to the UNESCO guidelines, people living in and around world heritage sites should be beneficiaries, hence the partnership between Tsodilo community and Diamond Trust to ensure increased participation of the community in the management and use of the heritage resource.
Mr Khama noted that Tsodilo community initiative evolved from an objective of ensuring that community became integral in the management of the area, hence two of its trust members being part of Tsodilo management authority.
Other objectives were to develop an internationally recognised, comprehensive and quality visitor experience through provision of archaeological, cultural and wildlife tourism components and to protect the biodiversity resource of the core area and manage the buffer area in a sustainable manner.
"With regard to community based tourism ventures, the community now operates two campsites, a curio centre and provides guiding services to visitors. Through the project, Tsodilo community now has water in the village for their livestock. The project has also assisted the orphans, the elderly and disabled with support system," he said.
Meanwhile, Okavango MP, Mr Bagalatia Arone said Tsodilo village was growing and it was high time they have a primary school and a clinic.
He said many tourists visited the heritage site, hence the need for a clinic in the village.
Mr Arone also said there was need to construct a road that would link Tsodilo and Qcwihaba for easy connection between the two areas by tourists.
He however implored the community to continue to take care of Tsodilo Heritage Site and always avoid veld fires in the area.
Nonetheless, Tsodilo Hills was inscribed as a world heritage site in 2001, while the world heritage status celebrated the artistic expression of the 4 500 rock paintings and the ancient successive human occupation from 100 000 years ago to date.
It is also an acknowledgement of the spiritual closeness of Tsodilo people to the hills as well as thousands of pilgrims who visit the area for religious purposes.
Source : BOPA