SADC tourists boost Bots’ economy

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SADC tourists boost Bots’ economy

THE SouthernTIMES Mar 19, 2018

    Mpho Tebele

    Gaborone – The number of local tourists and those from the Southern African Development Community (sadc) who were staying a night or more in 2016 soared as visitors spent a total of P14, 5 billion more than they did in 2009, according to a survey.  

    The findings of the survey, which are contained in the 2016 Tourism Satellite Account (TSA) launched in Gaborone recently, show that the majority of international tourists to Botswana continue to be from South Africa and other neighbouring countries in the region.

    The TSA, the third conducted in Botswana starting with a pilot in 2006, is a research project designed to accurately gauge the contribution of tourism to the national economy. 

    It is a programme by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) that develops tourism measurement for further knowledge of the sector monitoring progress, evaluating impact, promoting results-focused management, and highlighting strategic issues for policy objectives.

    Data shared during the launch revealed that spending by tourists in 2016 was 150 percent higher than the 2009 TSA, driven by higher volumes of tourists, longer stays and greater spending.

    Speaking at the launch, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism, Jimmy Opelo, said in 2016 alone, Botswana’s tourism sector realised 1,9 million visits, which generated over R14 billion worth of business.

    “Tourism has been identified as an important sector in the economy; it creates jobs, and generates income for local communities and has direct contributions to government revenues.”

    He added that the sector was based on personal service and it was, therefore, employment-intensive. “It is a major foreign exchange tax earner. It spreads wealth and builds skills,” said Opelo.

    He explained that TSA was the standard statistical framework developed by the World Tourism Organisation for measuring the economic contribution of tourism to the economy which was consistent with the way other economic sectors were measured.

    World Tourism Organisation statistician, David McEwen, said that the latest results were impressive.

    “I would say Botswana has done very well. The country is always looking for ways to improve and this is a good thing. It is also clear that both domestic and international tourism is growing,” he said.

    Speaking at the same event, UNWTO programme manager for Botswana, Vanessa Satur concurred with Opelo that Botswana received nearly two million tourists in 2016 and that the government was keen to further develop the tourism sector after realising its importance to the economy.

    She said countries needed a thorough understanding of their tourism sector and its role in the economy in order for them to maintain an impressive tourism development sector in both a sustainable and competitive manner.This, she said, can only be achieved through a reliable and accurate system of tourism information.

    “Information is usually limited to a collection of tourism statistics which measured the flows of foreign travellers to a country combined with hotel occupancy rates,” she said observed.

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