Tuesday, 29 November 2016

BOTSWANA: Tourism Prospects Very High In Botswana

Traditionally reliant on mineral revenues especially from diamond sales, the country is banking on the seemingly fast improving tourism sector to become a central plank of its economic strategy.

Spurred by positive growth figures, blue-collar workers are busy building high scrapping hotels and convention centres, in a push to boost tourism as the government reduces its reliance on diamond revenues.

For the past five years, the government has been upgrading airports to international standards – a development that has given hope and confidence in the private investors in the tourism sector.

Ongoing construction of world-class hotels and resorts, infrastructure projects in the aviation, road and rail sectors is expected to successfully position Botswana in the right frame of receiving international tourists in the country.

When presenting a draft National Development Plan (NDP) 11 in parliament a couple of weeks ago, Finance and Economic Development Minister Kenneth Matambo said there are signs that economic diversification occurred during the NDP 10.

Matambo singled out the hotels and restaurants, which fall under the tourism sector, as the main player in driving the growth of the economy at a time when the country’s mainstay being the mining sector declined.

“The mining sector contracted by an average of 3.4percent per annum during the entire NDP 10 period while the non-mining sector grew by 5.6percent per annum thanks to good performance by the tourism sector,” said Matambo.

Matambo further explained that the increased contribution of non-mining sectors especially the tourism sector saved the economy from experiencing a full-blown recession in the past decade following the world credit crunch.

“This underscores the significance of continued vigorous efforts to diversify the economy and support of the non-mining sectors,” Matambo recently told a tense parliament, adding that the government will now focus on growing the tourism sector.

According to Matambo, non-mining sectors are expected to grow modestly by 4.6percent mainly driven by hotels and restaurants sector, which is projected to grow by a whopping 6.8percent followed by a tourism related sector of transport and communications at 6.0percent.

On an annual basis, total revenues at the onset of the NDP 11 are estimated to be P52.76 billion and will grow by an average of 6.7percent, reaching P70.78 billion in the 2022/23 financial year with the tourism sector expected to be the main driver.

Meanwhile, prospects remain positive for Africa in the remaining last quarter of 2016 and beyond, according to the latest United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) World Tourism Barometer released last week.

International tourist arrivals in Africa increased by 8 percent between January and September 2016 over the comparable prior year with at least 956 million global tourists travelled around during the period, representing a 4percent increase from the similar period in 2015.