Maun — Tourism operators have been urged to take advantage of initiatives offered by financial institutions to sustain their operations.
An official from Botswana Tourism Organisation (BTO), Mr More Otsetswe said they should make use of such initiatives because COVID-19 impact survey of April 2020 painted a very gloomy picture in terms of the devastation the industry had suffered due to the pandemic.
He made the appeal when updating the business community about the impacts of COVID-19 on the tourism sector.
The meeting was organised by National Development Bank (NDB) to sell their product, the Industry Support Facility (ISF) Fund to the business community.
Mr Otsetswe stated that some experts predicted that the year 2021 would be better, but things did not seem to be changing more so that Ngamiland District, which depended on tourism, had experienced a new COVID-19 strain.
He also said they anticipated the industry to suffer more, hence businesses should take advantage of available initiatives such as ISF Fund to ensure their businesses stayed afloat.
He appreciated that tourism sector was the second largest contributor to the national economy and that the sector was a key contributor to job creation, skills transfer and the development of new competencies.
The business community was also informed that the United Nations Socio-Economic Impact in Botswana predicted that though Botswana had strong macroeconomic fundamentals, the economy was expected to contract by an estimated 13.1 per cent due to COVID-19 impact.
They learnt that the trade, hotel, restaurants and other economic sectors such as mining, transport and communication would be affected and thus recommended that workers and critical businesses in those sectors be protected until the economy opened up.
Mr Otsetswe further revealed that BTO would continue to support the tourism sector by promoting healthy travels to help fight the scourge.
He also said NDB had indicated that they received many loan applications and hoped the funding would help the tourism operators to reduce the impact of the pandemic.
BTO, he said, was committed to assisting where possible to ensure smooth operations.
For their part, some operators indicated that they had some bookings for 2021, but expressed uncertainty on whether that would materialise, considering the current situation of the pandemic.
Some decried that despite the effects they encountered, it was worrying as government had increased park fees and wished the issue could be revisited.
In response, Mr Otsetswe noted that BTO did not regulate park prices, but promised to take up the issue with relevant authorities.
Source : BOPA