Ramotswa — The Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism has instituted measures to address tourism sector challenges.
Addressing the South East District Council (SEDC) on September 15, Minister Philda Kereng revealed that new agro-tourism guidelines were recently launched in a bid to transform the sector.
She said the aim was to promote cultural heritage, leisure and domestic tourism.
"Government has identified major dams as providing opportunities for tourism development," said Ms Kereng.
The minister said the ministry had put in place an online platform for tourism licenses, penalties, license and training levy fees.
Ms Kereng said the 1990 Tourism Policy was being reviewed in order to facilitate product diversification, promote domestic tourism and increase citizen and community participation in industry activities.
"The COVID-19 pandemic has made the ownership of the tourism economy by citizens even more urgent," she said.
Minister Kereng said the new measures would stimulate domestic tourism and reduce reliance on international tourists.
She bemoaned the limited participation of locals in the sector, saying prime lodges and high-end hotels remained in the hands of the few dominant operators.
Joint ventures between citizens and foreigners as well successful partnerships between communities and tourism operators were few, she said.
Another challenge, the minister said, was limited and inadequate tourism experiences.
She said local tourism was limited to motorised wildlife viewing within and around key tourism attraction points.
"Rich cultural values and experiences have not been adequately exploited and there is a need to capitalise on the interrelationship between people and nature," she said.
In addition, Minister Kereng said destination marketing of local tourism had been inadequate due to lack of a comprehensive and coordinated strategy.
The focus had been on upmarket safari in the northern part of the country, she said.
Another shortcoming, she said, was the below par Internet based marketing which had been a key success factor in global advertising of the sector.
Councillors said tourism occurred at district level, hence the need for local authorities to be directly involved and empowered to plan and implement tourism plans in synergy with national priorities.
<i>Source : BOPA</i>