President Mokgweetsi Masisi has warmed the hearts of the business community by announcing the lifting of international travel restrictions effective 9th of November 2020,.
Business Botswana President Gobusamang Keebine said that they are very excited by the decision by government to lift international travel restrictions as it will help to stabilize the already ailing economy due to travel restrictions. “We have achieved what we have been fighting for since May this year and just last week I spoke to President Masisi about the issue. I am happy that they heeded our pleas,” he said.
Botswana is an import based economy and the closure of the borders severely affected most businesses, pushing some to the brink of collapse. Keebine said one of the sectors that was adversely affected by the ban on international travels due to Covid-19 was the tourism sector which is currently on its knees.
Managing Director of Crocodile Camp and SKL group of Camps, Reaboka Mbulawa said they are more than ready to welcome international tourists in the country. “It’s like a big weight has been lifted from our shoulders. We have already been prepared to welcome tourists,” he said, indicating that they already had bookings before the boarder closure and they have everything in place to honor the bookings.
Reacting to the move, chairperson of construction industries sector in Botswana Caesar Tshupelo said that it is a welcome development as there was low production due to shortage of materials from outside. “There has been delay in the arrival of construction materials due to the Covid-19 restriction which meant materials took long to be delivered,” he said, indicating that there has been acute shortage of cement locally as it is sourced from South Africa and Namibia.
Botswana closed its borders in March this year after neighboring countries reported cases of Covid-19. In a press statement on Friday, Permanent Secretary, Government Communications, Andrew Sesinyi said that President Masisi approved the lifting of international travel restrictions in a phased manner starting from 9th of November and extending to 1st of December 2020 covering the 14 points of entry.
“On the 9th of November, 2020 air travel will resume at Sir Seretse Khama International Airport in Gaborone, Kasane and Maun International Airport,” reads the press statement.
The press statement continues to state that Ground Crossing will resume at the commercial border points of Kazungula, Martins Drift, Ramatlabama,Tlokweng,Mamumo, Pioneer and Mohembo on the 1st of December 2020.
To ensure that they contain the spread of Covid-19, Sesinyi announced that all travelers will have to present a valid 72 hours negative Covid-19 Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) result from time of departure.
The decision to open borders come after South Africa, Namaibia and Zimbabwe also lifted restrictions on international travels.