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New BTO CEO has big plans

Publishing Date : 02 March, 2015

Author : NGONIDZASHE DZIMIRI

Dithebe says tourism will get more funding


The development and sustainability of the tourism sector is hinged on getting commensurate funding from government as well as support from the private sector.


Unlike other economic sectors generating short and medium-term gains, tourism, when sustainably planned and managed, has proven to stimulate economies over the long-term.


Addressing the media, the new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Botswana Tourism Organisation (BTO), Thabo Brian Dithebe said there are huge prospects for the tourism sector whose development are dependent on the private sector and government willingness to cooperate.


“As an organization we have dreams but if the two key stakeholders don’t come on board it will forever remain a dream,” said Dithebe.


Botswana has already adopted a strong position on Tourism and the industry is the second-contributing industry after Diamonds.


The sector has been identified as an engine of growth and an industry with potential to contribute to economic diversification that will help to broaden our economic base. The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) report on the economic impact of tourism in Botswana in 2014 also shows that the direct contribution of travel and tourism to GDP was P5, 486.6 million which was 3.2 percent of the total GDP.


The new CEO who has been part of the organization at executive management level for the past six years has vowed to develop the tourism industry in Botswana to the desired levels.


Dithebe said there are great opportunities that the country seeks to leverage on such as cultural tourism, event and sports tourism, dams tourism and even city beautifying to attract tourists.


“These are areas which are currently in their early stages of development in Botswana and they promise great returns for the country,” he said.


Dithebe highlighted that BTO is currently exploring implementing non-consumptive tourism products, which will not only promote Botswana as more than a country that hosts the Big Five and beautiful flora-fauna, but as a country that has rich culture, noteworthy events that can promote not only international visits to Botswana but domestic and regional tourism as well.


He stated that he will pursue further the drive to increase investment in community-based projects that will encourage the development and commercialization of areas, which are endowed with natural resources.
“Community projects, can stimulate growth in the tourism industry,” he said.


He also touched on the issue of City beautifying saying there is need to develop the cities dealing with softer issues like proper public transport.


 He highlighted that Botswana has not done well in hosting international meetings, conferences and events.


Need for Kasane and Maun facelift
Dithebe underscored the need for Kasane redevelopment to become a tourism node.


“It is our wish that the private sector come into play and establish craft markets, bed and breakfast, offices that have to do with tourism, apartments and even sporting complexes,” he said.


Dithebe added that the Maun town has not received the attention it deserves. “There are no conservative activities in the Town that can attract tourists,” he said.  


The new CEO said the Maun educational park is underutilized highlighting the need for an upmakert café/ restaurant, cultural heritage complex, an exclusive eco lodge, 5 star hotels and even a nature based Adventure Park.
“If the private sector and government can implement these Kasane and Maun can become attractive to the tourists,” he added.


Dithebe highlighted the need for a Diamond Pavilion and Tourism Precinct in Gaborone. “We need to come up with a diamond museum in Botswana that is intended to attract diamond traders to spend time in Botswana,” he said.
He said the tourism sector continues to face challenges of fragmented and inconsistent efforts in branding and promoting Botswana, frequency of flights as well preparedness of emergency evacuations.


Botswana is still unable to retain up to 90 percent of revenue generated by the local tourism. According to statistics from Botswana Tourism, only 10 percent of the domestic tourism revenue is retained locally whilst the rest is claimed by foreign countries.

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