Serowe — Minister of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism Ms Philda Kereng says Batswana should consider venturing into agro-tourism, given its cross-cutting nature and links with other sectors along its vast value chain.
Ms Kereng said this during the launch of the revised agro-tourism guidelines in Serowe recently.
She said tourism had the potential to contribute to the economy significantly.
The minister said according to the 2016 Tourism Satellite Account, the tourism sector in Botswana contributes an estimated 4.9 per cent to GDP with international inbound and domestic tourism expenditure totalling P14.5bn and creating 18 666 jobs.
Ms Kereng said most of Batswana had fields which are currently not put to maximum use.
She said through agro-tourism, the nation could be fed, tourists entertained and employment created at the same time, thus improving the lives of the rural population.
Ms Kereng said tourism had been identified as an important sector in the economy of Botswana providing jobs, and contributing to government revenue.
"Tourism is based on personal service and it is therefore employment intensive," she said.
Ms Kereng said her ministry continued to develop and implement policies as well as strategies to facilitate the development and growth of the tourism industry in Botswana.
She said the ministry had been revising the tourism policy, which had been considered by cabinet and would be tabled in Parliament during the next sitting.
She said government had found it necessary to revise the Tourism Policy in recognition of the significant changes that had taken place in the tourism environment in recent years, especially growing competition from other national states with similar product offerings. She noted that tourism was a volatile, sensitive and a fiercely competitive industry whose future development and viability depended on healthy partnership between the public and private sector.
Therefore, she said that her ministry was committed to continue leading the sector by providing an enabling environment for tourism growth.
She underscored the importance of tourism being private sector driven with private sector operating tourism businesses.
In an effort to facilitate actualisation of the transformational agenda, particularly diversification of the economy and job creation, she said, her ministry had revised the agro-tourism guidelines.
She said agro-tourism was a response to a demand for alternative tourism, particularly for a tourist who perceives a need to disconnect from their daily reality to relax and connect with country life and learning more about rhythms and activities taking place in it.
She said agro-tourism may include visiting working farm or any agricultural, horticultural or agribusiness operation for the purpose of leisure, education or active involvement in the activities of the operation.
<i>Source : BOPA</i>