The Botswana Tourism Board and the Botswana Bureau of Standards will be developing relevant national standards for players in the tourism industry such as tour operators and travel agents.
The Minister of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism, Kitso Mokaila, said in Gaborone last Friday that as much as Government can direct policies, laws and regulations, it is up to the private sector to ensure that internationally recognised standards are always maintained.
Launching the new offices of AT&T Travel and Tours, Mokaila said the tourism industry is highly competitive globally and that Botswana must have policies in line with current international trends in order to respond timeously to market needs and to stay ahead of the pack.
“Our Botswana Tourism Policy of 1990 is at its completion stage for review,” he said. “My ministry, through the Botswana Tourism Board, completed the first grading exercise of accommodation services in Botswana at the end of 2007.”
The motivation for international grading is to ensure international competition and standards. “To our citizen entrepreneurs, I urge you to embrace these standards and show the rest of the world that we are indeed a formidable partner and not (just another) third world destination in tourism,” Mokaila said.
Tourism depends on travel networks which are about providing choices, convenience and competitive prices, he added. The 2007 Tourism Satellite Account by the World Travel and Tourism Council and its partners, Oxford Economics, facilitated by the Botswana Tourism Board, indicates that in 2005, international tourist arrivals by Mode of Transport was 95.4 percent by road, 4.4 percent arrived by air, and only 0.2 percent by rail.
“This is very revealing in terms of who is missing opportunities or not creating them, and who is currently having the bigger slice of the cake in the travel industry,” Mokaila said.
He commended the AT&T Monnakgotla Group for registering business growth, which he said is a recent tourism living success story. He pointed out that AT&T Monnakgotla Travel and Tours expanded to AT&T Travel as a trading division in its own right.
AT&T Travel’s principle objectives include airline reservations, car rentals, hotel reservations, travel insurance and the compilation of domestic, regional and international packages. He urged stakeholders in the industry to support AT&T. “Let us rejoice in the citizen entrepreneurship in tourism,” the minister said. “Let us encourage and wish them good business.”
Mokaila said travel and tourism are intertwined and cannot be separated, especially in a landlocked country considering all possible avenues to diversify the national economy.
Established in 1999, AT&T Transport has registered growth since inception, expanding in 2004 by way of subsidiaries AT&T Monnakgotla Travel and Tours and AT&T Insurance Brokers.