Wednesday, 3 May 2017

BOTSWANA: Government Introduces $30 Tax On Tourists To raise Money For Conservation

Botswana has overcome opposition from its tourism bosses to introduce a $30 (about £23) tax on all tourists entering the country in an effort to raise money to support conservation in the safari hotspot.

The Tourism Development Levy (TDL) was on the cusp of being introduced last year but stalled after opposition from the African nation’s Hospitality and Tourism Association (Hatab).

Botswana Tourism Organisation (BTO) has said the fee will be owed by any visitor to Botswana’s airports and border posts from June 1, payable at the point of entry. Residents of countries within the Southern African Development Community (SADC), which counts 15 members, will be exempt from the charge.

The levy is to support the growth of the industry and broaden the tourism base, resultantly improving the lives of the people of Botswana,” said the BTO.

The objective of the levy is to raise funds for conservation and national tourism development in order to support the growth of the industry and broaden the tourism base.

Last year Hatab complained that it nor other stakeholders had been consulted on the potential tax.

Botswana, which welcomes some 1.6million visitors a year, of which 42,000 are British, stands to make around £34.1million a year from the tax, taking into account the 190,000 SADC visitors.

The country in west Africa is popular with British tourists seeking to spot the Big Five on safari in the continent, as well as for visits to the Okavango Delta, one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa. G

Botswana has one of the best safaris in Africa. It has more elephants than anywhere else in the world.

Tourism is important to the country’s economy, in part because the country's safari offering is one of the most expensive.

Botswana is by far the most expensive safari destination on the continent: visitors can expect to pay up to £1,600 a night in high season at the top wildlife lodges.

Payment of the levy can be made in cash, debit and credit card. Once a TDL stamp is acquired it is valid for 30 days and can be used for multiple entries.

British visitors to Botswana are allowed to stay in the country for up to 90 days without a visa.

The introduction of tourism taxes to support sustainable development is also common in Europe. The Balaeric Islands imposed an "eco-tax" on holidaymakers last April, while many cities on the continent, including Rome, Florence and Dubrovnik, also charge visitors extra.

You don’t need a visa,at least not if you’re travelling on a British passport, which allows travellers to spend up to six months exploring the country without the need for expensive paperwork.

Botswana won its only Olympic medal at London 2012 when track runner, Nijel Amos, finished second in the men’s 800m.

Another beleaguered African species, the rhino, which is hunted for its horn, is the star attraction at the Khama Rhino Sanctuary in the east of the country. Home to white and black rhinos, the reserve’s inhabitants are closely monitored by conservationists, who are keen to boost the number of rhinos living in Botswana.

According to Freedom House, there are only eight countries in Africa that can truly be described as free – and Botswana is one of them. The other seven are: Cape Verde, Senegal, Tunisia, Ghana, Benin, Namibia and South Africa.

The Makgadikgadi Pan is all that remains of the defunct Makgadikgadi Lake, which once covered an area the size of Switzerland. Tourists can traverse the arid salt flats on quad bikes by day and watch zebra and wildebeest migrating across it by night.

Precious Diamonds are found in Botswana,while precious stones have made Botswana one of the wealthiest nations in Africa,in fact, the country has a better credit rating than Hungary, its mines are starting to empty. They are also controversial because they have displaced indiginous Bushmen and wildlife. Fortunately, the country hasn’t squandered its mineral wealth,investing heavily in infrastructure, education and healthcare,but the race is now on to wean the country off diamonds and look to a future less dependent on minerals.

Cruising is possible, And not just any cruise: a cruise down the Chobe River, one of Africa’s richest waterways. Teeming with wildlife – from hungry hippos to boisterous buffalo – a boat trip down this life-giving river gives passengers the chance to quaff a G&T whilst watching elephants go for a dip. To experience all of this in unabashed luxury, book a cabin aboard the opulent Zambezi Queen, which plies this limpid waterway.

World Heritage status has also been bestowed upon Tsodilo, which Unesco describes as the “Louvre of the Desert”. And with good reason: this corner of the Kalahari Desert is home to one of the highest concentrations of rock art in the world. Revered by the Hambukushu and San communities, Tsodilo boasts some 4,500 paintings, some of which are 100,000 years old.

One of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa, the Okavango Delta also enjoys World Heritage status – and it’s easy to see why. Spreading out across 15,000 sq km, this dramatic delta provides a vital habitat for some of Botswana’s most celebrated wildlife, including the African elephant, Nile crocodile, spotted hyena and black rhino.

With just 3.5 people per square kilometre, Botswana is one of the world’s least-crowded countries. Just the tonic if you live in bustling Britain, which, by contrast, is one of the most crowded, with a claustrophobic 262 inhabitants per square kilometre.

Botswana’s government has been criticised for gazetting land that belongs to indigenous San Bushmen, who, human rights groups claim, have suffered human abuse at the hands of the state. This has prompted celebrities, including Joanna Lumley, to call for a boycott of Botswana.

Botswana has set aside 45 per cent of its land for protection, which is why the country has such an abundance of wildlife.

You can easily spot big cats in Botswana, particularly Chobe National Park, which is one of the best places in Africa to see leopards, lions and cheetahs. Their bountiful numbers are, again, down to Botswana’s admirable conservation policies, which have made the country one of the best safari destinations in Africa.

Botswana has got more Elephants in the world than any country.

Botswana is something of a haven for the beleaguered African elephant, which is found in greater numbers here than anywhere else on the planet. Poaching is pushing these gentle giants to the brink across the continent, but Botswana’s conservation efforts have kept local populations stable.