Botswana Guides Association (BOGA) has called for an ease in COVID-19 protocols to allow tourism businesses to stay afloat and recover from lockdown as more and more tour operators abandon safari vehicles to try their luck at the taxi rank.
Speaking in an interview with Okavango Voice this week, BOGA chairperson, Kenson Kgaga indicated that BOGA membership pray that the country would lift the state of emergency which has been in place since last year April following the outbreak of COVIOD-19.
“We should be able to recover from direct effects of COVID-19, but the problem is that we are being hit by cancellations because our clients are sceptical to travel to a country that is constantly on a state of emergency,” Kgaga pointed out.
He says reports received at his office suggests that many clients who are cancelling are citing the SOE as an excuse.
“They are saying their travel insurance would not cover them if they were to suffer any loses during their stay here, so they rather shift their bookings to neighbouring countries and this is really hitting hard on us because we have to refund them,” Kgaga further explained.
BOGA has a membership of over 2000 tour operators and mobile safaris some of whom have closed shop.
“They are running taxis, some are selling firewood and some are selling lunch in the streets and the mall because they have no other choice of survival. The situation is very bad,” Kgaga added.
State of emergency was introduced on April 2nd 2020 to give the president power to control people’s movement by introducing lockdowns and curfews among others as a way of curbing the spread of corona virus.
It was to last for six months but ever since it has been extended after every six months with the current six months ending in September this year.
Even the Parliamentary committee on tourism have noted during a visit to Maun two weeks ago that the state of emergency has had a huge impact on tourism income and probably needs to be revised to help the sector to recover.