Gaborone — Government has taken a deliberate decision to establish Botswana as a centre of conference tourism, which has enormous potential to attract international tourists and meeting delegates alike, and whose contribution to the economy will be invaluable.
President Mokgweetsi Masisi said this when officially opening the Room50Two Boutique Hotel, located in one of the prime areas of Gaborone's Central Business District.
President Masisi said it was gratifying to witness the active participation of citizens in the development of the tourism and hospitality sector, which had been identified as a key engine of economic growth in Botswana.
He commended the Directors of the hotel for their foresight and visionary leadership in conceiving and executing the idea of putting up the facility, which would go a long way in easing the problems of hotel accommodation in the city.
"As you are all aware, in my inauguration speech, I made a commitment to the effect that one of my top priorities will be to address the twin problems of unemployment and poverty among the youth who constitute the majority of our population.
To this end, I am happy to note that the private sector, as a partner in development is playing, as it should, a leading role in the growth of our economy, which will set Botswana on the path to sustainable job creation," he added.
President Masisi said in order to effectively achieve the diversification of the economy, government has found it appropriate to follow the cluster development model, with tourism having been identified as one of the priority sectors.
He said the strategy was to have an efficient private sector, which can produce high quality products and services along the entire tourism value chain to meet all the needs of the sector.
He said, "In this respect, government is committed to improving the ease of doing business in Botswana by harmonising laws and regulations that are spread across different ministries to facilitate the business community, including foreign investors, with a view to optimising its contribution to the growth of the economy".
President Masisi said the National Vision 2036 document asserted that the tourism sector would be diversified to promote economic growth and employment creation for local communities and to that end, government will develop a diverse and varied tourist sites, capitalising on the country's long established global reputation in governance, peace and democracy, the diverse scenic natural beauty as well as our vast wildlife resources.
He said these factors, among others, make Botswana conceptually and geographically a convenient place to hold global and regional meetings, conferences and events.
He said in order to ensure that Batswana were not left behind in the tourism sector, government would continue to ensure the implementation of the Tourism Regulations and the 2010 Tourism Act of 2009, adding that of particular importance, is the reservation of some licence categories for citizens, which would be done with a view to promoting the full participation of Batswana in the sector.
The President said according to the Tourism Satellite Account, the contribution of tourism to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Botswana stood at 4.9 percent in 2016, which translated to P7.7 billion.
"I am happy to note that 19 000 direct jobs have been created in the tourism sector and the number is likely to rise with the establishment of more tourism businesses in the country. He said government is in the process of formulating the National Tourism Strategy and the Master Plan to guide the development of the sector in the country, revealling that the 1990 Tourism Policy is also being reviewed because the tourism sector is dynamic and highly competitive and therefore "we have to keep pace with the latest developments across the globe".
President Masisi informed the gathering that during the implementation of the NDP 11, more products and attractions, especially in areas that were not traditionally known as tourist attractions, will be developed.
He said government would ensure that it broadens and diversifies the location, type and access to the opportunities available in the tourism industry.
<i>Source : BOPA</i>