Former president of Botswana Lt.General Dr Seretse Khama Ian Khama has called for greater participation of local communities in tourism such that there is greater benefit for all stakeholders.Khama who is an avid lover of wildlife and tourism was officiating at the 2018 Global Sustainable Tourism Council Conference in Maun this past week.
“The need for a symbiotic relationship between host communities and the tourism product offering needs close attention at global level.It is therefore pleasing to note that this forms part of priority areas.The United Nations World Tourism Organization in its tourism also emphasize the importance of ensuring tourism value derivation does not ignore other national interests. I therefore challenge you to give careful attention to ensuring that a balance is established between sectors of the economy if we are to have communities embracing tourism,”said Khama.
He further said failure to ensure that local communities ripe some rewards from the tourism sector can lead up to some negativities. “Attitudes torward tourism could become negative over time as tourism development increases and host communities perceive such development as not beneficial to them. This may result on product defacing, animosity towards visitors and general resistance to tourism advancement. Therefore there is a need to develop policies and framework that will ensure that tourism development benefits both the entrepreneur ,the nation and communities,”Khama explained.
As tourism attracts a lot of visitors from across the world, Khama said this might put too much pressure on the available services and infrastructure which may lead to communities having the perception that tourism outweighs its benefits. “An increase in tourism always carries the risk of harming the very attribute that attracts visitors in the first place. For example, roads,airports, water supplies and public services. This would then lead to a perception by communities that the inconvenience from tourism out weighs its benefits, eventually leading to conflict particularly with conservationists. Therefore proper planning is key at early stages of tourism development,”he said.
In Maun and surrounding areas most of the tourism business starting from hotels and safaris businesss are mostly owned by foreigners with locals running a little of those enterprises.The issue of communities around tourist attraction areas being left out was brought forward to Botswana Tourism Organisation Executive Marketing Manager Jillian Blackbeard who said, “We can’t determine prizes of the private sector because in most cases people complain about fees. But the question is how many Batswana do travel? What I can only say is that we have failed Batswana when it comes to communication but I do believe that once we avail all the information to them they will start travelling because they will realise how cheap it is,”said Blackbeard.