Botswana Touts Regional And Domestic Travel Post Coronavirus

The tourism industry worldwide was the first to be hard hit by the novel coronavirus, leading to huge losses in businesses as bookings for travel and hospitality as well and events were cancelled owing to travel restrictions. This also resulted in massive job losses as the industry could not sustain itself. The United Nations World Trade Organisation has pegged the revenue losses in the global tourism industry at over US$50 billion.

Botswana’s Environment, Natural Resources and conservation and tourism minister Philda Kereng has said the country’s industry is operating at only 10%, especially in the hospitality sector while other sectors have shut down, and even sent workers home. Kereng impressed that they have not yet put a figure on the country’s revenue loss in tourism. The minister also fears for the future of the industry post covid-19.

This has placed uncertainty on the industry globally on its possible come back post the corona virus. Many in the industry have been encouraging postponement as compared to cancellations of booking completely, to allow for travel to resume seamlessly once the world has recovered from the virus.

Minister Kereng highlighted that while it uncertain as to when the situation will get back to normal, its recovery is dependent on proper planning and doing things differently.her government is touting the idea of growing the regional and domestic travel post covid-19. This, she reveled will be important in helping the local industry recover while international inbound travel is to recover.

In growing the domestic travel specifically, government is bound to make a radical change to its policy of low volume and high value tourism which has been in place for a very long time as conservation measure of the country’s prime and highly sensitive destinations, especially the Chobe and the Okavango systems.

Kereng has pointed our that the low volume, high value policy has been a hinderance to domestic and regional travel growing as the tourism product offering has been viewed as too expensive and therefore out of reach to Batswana and those from the region.

She noted that government want travel packages that are affordably to locals, to allow them to visit tourism prime destinations. She said there will also be need to vigorously diversify the tourism product offering from wildlife based to other products like Sport, culture and religion tourism.

The minister is convinced that with the necessary changes the industry in Botswana, the industry will recover and even grow bigger.

According to the UNTWO, 96% of global destinations have imposed travel restrictions. A report by UNTWO said the scale of disruption caused by COVID-19 shows that almost all global destinations have imposed restrictions on travel since January 2020, including complete bans on all travel as they work to contain the pandemic.

Over recent years, as the United Nations specialized agency for tourism, UNWTO has been regularly monitoring travel facilitation and observing a continuous trend towards more openness. COVID-19 has dramatically interrupted this. According to research carried out for the new report, as of 6 April, 96% of all worldwide destinations have introduced travel restrictions in response to the pandemic. Around 90 destinations have completely or partially closed their borders to tourists, while a further 44 are closed to certain tourists depending on country of origin.

“COVID-19 has impacted travel and tourism like no other event before in history. Governments have put public health first and introduced full or partial restrictions on travel. With tourism suspended, the benefits the sector brings are under threat: millions of jobs could be lost, and progress made in the fields of equality and sustainable economic growth could be rolled back. UNWTO therefore calls on governments to continuously review travel restrictions and ease or lift them as soon as it is safe to do so,” UNWTO Secretary General Zurab Pololikashvili said.

In many instances, destinations have already adjusted their restrictive measures as the situation has evolved. UNWTO will continue to regularly track and analyse the evolution of travel restrictions, in an effort to effectively support the responsible but also timely recovery of the tourism sector.

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