An d perhaps transparency can start with him and his brother the President being transparent about their investment stakes in and earnings from tourism. They also need to address the over-population of elephants in Chobe and the increasing impoverishment of rural communities through conflict with elephants and other wildlife. KS
KASANE: The Minister of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism, Tshekedi Khama has called for more transparency in the billion pula tourism sector.
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Addressing journalists on the sidelines of tourism symposium here, Tshekedi said the current arrangement where the government does not have any specific figures on the money collected by tourist centres such as hotels, lodges and safari camps in major tourist destinations is disturbing.
He observed that very little is known about how much money is repatriated from the country.
“We have information that some of the operators collect money from Botswana and set up operations in other countries. This is the money that could have been spent at home to improve the livelihoods of our people,” he said.
The symposium dubbed ‘The 10YFP Sustainable Tourism’ was held at the end of the Botswana Travel and Tourism Expo, which attracted over 100 tour operators, and agencies from several countries such as Morocco, Korea, South Africa, Germany, Spain and others.
The minister told journalists that tourism is the second largest contributor to the Gross Domestic Product adding that unlike diamonds, it has no competition or threat from man-made products.
“In my ministry we say diamonds today, sustainable tourism forever. Diamonds face a threat from synthetic diamonds, whilst there are no synthetic elephants anywhere in the world. We don’t want to be another safari destination in Africa because there are many of those, and that is why our ministry leads in sustainable development and sustainable tourism.”
He said that government has put policies in place to promote eco-tourism that has minimal impact on the environment.
Khama once again expressed his disapproval of the route taken by Kenya to burn its ivory stockpiles as a way of discouraging elephant poaching. He said Botswana will continue to put pressure on the Convention on International Trade on Endangered Species (CITES) to allow for the sale of ivory stockpiles as well as build a museum to raise funds to improve the lives of the people living on conservation areas.
Mmegi has learnt that a good number of elephants recently died of Anthrax in the Chobe National Park. Botswana has a population of 200,000 elephants and half of that number lives in the Chobe area.
Meanwhile, in an interview, Chobe MP Machana Shamukuni said that elephants continue to impoverish his constituents. He stated that people cannot grow crops because the elephants are a menace and also kill people. As for livestock, the legislator said that carnivores also feast on the livestock but the compensation is absurd. So far, a goat is compensated for P70.
Shamukuni said that although there are reports of illtreatment of workers in the tourism industry, he has noticed some improvements where young Batswana hold management positions in some hotels.