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Time to reposition Botswana’s tourism product

Kabelo Adamson

Minister Kereng freezes park fees, announces BTO campaign

The ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism has postponed the increment of Botswana National Parks and Game Reserve entry fees indefinitely in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The tourism industry, a key revenue earner for the economy, only coming second to diamonds, has been badly affected by the outbreak of the corona virus as most countries globally closed off their borders and imposed travel restrictions.

Speaking in a televised press conference this week, the Minister of tourism, Philda Kereng said that they had intended to increase park entry fees, as they were due for a hike.

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Currently, park entry fees are P10 for citizens and P120 for non-citizens.

Payments of various fees such as the tourism levy, bed nights have also been put on hold for now. Licence renewals have also been suspended and those with expired licenses advised to continue using the old ones until further notice.

Hunting season, which was also supposed to open in April and last until September has been postponed to December.

“Between now and December we will be monitoring the situation closely. If the need arises, we will push the season further to February because the next hunting season should start in April next year, but we hope things will normalize so we can run this hunting properly,” she said.

Although the country’s s 28-day lockdown, which is scheduled to end on April 30th might have provided a window of opportunity for poachers to have a field day, Kereng said they have put everything together to control the situation and have increased the resources for anti-poaching.

In preparation for the industry to bounce back, the minister announced that Botswana Tourism Organization was conducting research and monitoring the situation at home and abroad in order to reposition the industry’s high value low volume model in such a way that it can allow domestic and regional tourism to thrive.

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“We have given ourselves this time to think better, come up with new and different strategies so that when the Coronavirus is over, we know where to start,” said Kereng.

She also revealed that there was an ongoing campaign by BTO to encourage tourists who had already booked to postpone their visits instead of cancelling their trips altogether.

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