News that the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius had terminated its membership in RETOSA, the Regional Tourism Organization of Southern Africa, was discussed during the just-concluded 7th Ministerial Meeting of RETOSA in the Botswana capital of Gaborone.
The ongoing board meeting today will further look into the reasons for the decision, but it has been learned that RETOSA ministers resolved to have a delegation visit Mauritius and seek ways and means to bring the island back into the organization.
Angola and Namibia both volunteered to lead the team which was tasked to look into the reasons why Mauritius had given notice to leave RETOSA and address the circumstances which led to the decision.
Meanwhile it was also reliably learned that the ministers reviewed earlier instructions to turn RETOSA into a viable and self-sustaining organization tasked with the promotion of the SADC tourism sectors. The presence of the Caribbean Tourism Organization’s Ms. Carol Hay in fact was intended to learn more about CTO’s modus operandum and operational guidelines so as to benchmark RETOSA vis-a-vis another major regional tourism organization. In this regard, the ministers heard from the board that an organizational review had taken place and that changes were being recommended aimed to make RETOSA more proactive and responsive to members/ needs.
Subsequently, the ministers approve a continued organizational review as well as a developing a new strategic plan and funding mechanisms, among other key areas such as aligning the RETOSA Charter with the MOU between SADC’s secretariat and RETOSA.
Cross-border, anti-poaching operations, cross-border tourism facilitation, and travel facilitation in Africa – in clear text dealing with the early removal of red tape visa regimes hindering intra-Africa travel – is high on the agenda for both the ministerial and the board meeting of RETOSA.
What has become clear is that RETOSA is re-inventing itself and repositioning itself as a key platform for promoting tourism and travel not just among SADC member countries but to bring more tourists from outside the trace bloc into their region.