The acting Minister of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism, Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi presented the Botswana Tourism Organisation Bill to Parliament last week.
The bill is meant to repeal and re-enact the Botswana Tourism Board Act. It proposes a Botswana Tourism Organisation (BTO) to be established to operate under the existing Botswana Tourism Board (BTB). When presenting the bill, Venson-Moitoi said since the BTB Act was enacted in 2003, there have been many changes in the industry. The minister said as a result of the changes, there is need to review the law with a view to bringing it at par with the current and future trends in the industry and for good governance. She said the new law will separate the BTO from the BTB which will become the governing body.
The bill also gives BTO power to select, develop and bring to marketable standard any tourism project from community-based organisations or individual. The members of the board of directors have been reduced from 15 to nine to ensure cost-effectiveness and efficiency. In another new change, members will not represent any constituencies or interest groups with the exception of the representative of the ministry.
Instead, the members will be selected on the basis of their skill, experience and competence relevant to tourism. It is proposed that the chief executive officer be an ex-officio member, to ensure commitment and accountability.
The bill introduces an additional requirement that all tourist faicilities shall have acquired the minimum of one star grading within 12 months of operation. The validity of the grading certificate is 24 months. The bill has provisions for an appeal process, offences, penalties and power to enter tourist enterprises, which are not provided for under the current Botswana Tourism Board Act.