In 2016 alone Botswana’s tourism sector realized 1.9 million visits which generated over 14 billion pula worth of business. This was revealed by Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism, Jimmy Opelo when presenting the Tourism Satellite Account (TSA) update on Monday in Gaborone.
TSA is a program by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) that develops tourism measurement for further knowledge of the sector monitoring progress, evaluating impact, promoting results-focused management, and highlighting strategic issues for policy objectives.
The programme works towards advancing the methodological frameworks for measuring tourism and expanding its analytical potential, designs practical guidance for their implementation in countries, supports statistical strengthening in countries through capacity building, and compiles and disseminates tourism statistics of countries all over the world.
The project which normally runs for a full year was first undertaken in Botswana as a pilot exercise in 2006, it primarily seeks to gauge the contribution of the tourism sector and its whole value chain businesses. According to the findings shared at the launch, in 2016 alone, tourists who visited Botswana spent 150 % more that they spent in 2009 (last TSA reference year).
This, according to the data as compiled in the TSA was predominantly due to increased numbers of visitors, prolonged stays and high spending by visitors during travel. The average length of stay by tourists in Botswana increased to 6.75 nights in 2016 from 5.32 nights in 2009.
The Account also continues to reveal that Botswana‘s tourism sector contributed 4.9 % to the economy in the year under review compared to 3.9 % noted in 2009. This are direct analysis, when juxtaposed to indirect contributions in 2016 the sector’s worth to the national economy was estimated at around 7.6 %.The analysis on indirect contribution takes into account the complimentary industries that support the tourism sector and the whole travel & tours value chain machinery.
The Permanent Secretary underscored that the findings of the Satellite Account reflects that Botswana‘s Tourism Sector was improving year in and year out. “Tourism has been identified as an important sector in the economy; it creates jobs, and generates income for local communities and has direct contributions to government revenues.” He added that the sector was based on personal service and it was therefore employment intensive. “It is a major foreign exchange tax earner. It spreads wealth and builds skills,” said Opelo.
The one year project was developed with the technical support of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO.)The project was funded by Peace Parks Foundation, the implementing agency of the Kavango Zambezi Trans-Frontier Conservation Area Programme (KAZA), through the German Development Bank. World Tourism Organization officials said on Monday that the Satellite Tourism Account intention was to Implement an improved Inbound Visitor Survey and provide in-depth training to ensure ongoing data collection and analysis.
Botswana‘s tourism sector according to WTTC
Meanwhile, according to another organization, the World Travel & Tourism Council(WTTC) in its 2017 report Botswana’s Travel & Tourism direct contribution to the country ‘s Gross Domestic Product(GDP) was BWP6,278.9 billion (USD573.5mn), 3.9% in total.
The total contribution of Travel & Tourism to GDP was BWP17,779.5 billion (USD1,623.8mn), 10.9% of GDP in 2016, rose by 6.5% in 2017, and is expected to rise by 5.5% pa to BWP32,204.9 billion (USD2,941.3mn), 12.2% of GDP in 2027.In 2016 Travel & Tourism directly supported 25,000 jobs (2.6% of total employment). This rose by 6.8% in 2017 and the WTTC says it is expected to 4.8% pa to 43,000 jobs (3.8% of total employment) by 2027.
In 2016, the total contribution of Travel & Tourism to employment, including jobs indirectly supported by Visitor exports generated BWP6, 220.0 billion (USD568.1mn), 5.8% of total exports in 2016. The Travel & Tourism investment in 2016 was BWP3, 712.8 billion, 8.5% of total investment (USD339.1mn). “It rose by 0.8% in 2017, and should rise by 5.0% pa over the next ten years to BWP6, 083.8 billion (USD555.7mn) in 2027, 8.6% of total,” reads the report.
Botswana’s tourism sector is mainly supported by wildlife and wilderness features. The country prides itself in being home to the largest inland delta in Africa and one of the largest and most prestigious in the world, The Okavango Delta which is also listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Marcian Concepts have been contracted by Selibe Phikwe Economic Unit (SPEDU) in a P230 million project to raise the town from its ghost status. The project is in the design and building phase of building an industrial hub for Phikwe; putting together an infrastructure in Bolelanoto and Senwelo industrial sites.
This project comes as a life-raft for Selibe Phikwe, a town which was turned into a ghost town when the area’s economic mainstay, BCL mine, closed four years ago. In that catastrophe, 5000 people lost their livelihoods as the town’s life sunk into a gloomy horizon. Businesses were closed and some migrated to better places as industrial places and malls became almost empty.
However, SPEDU has now started plans to breathe life into the town. Information reaching this publication is that Marcian Concepts is now on the ground at Bolelanoto and Senwelo and works have commenced. Marcian as a contractor already promises to hire Phikwe locals only, even subcontract only companies from the area as a way to empower the place’s economy.
The procurement method for the tender is Open Domestic bidding which means Joint Ventures with foreign companies is not allowed. According to Marcian Concepts General Manager, Andre Strydom, in an interview with this publication, the project will come with 150 to 200 jobs. The project is expected to take 15 months at a tune of P230 531 402. 76. Marcian will put together construction of roadworks, storm-water drains, water reticulation, street lighting and telecommunication infrastructure. This tender was flouted last year August, but was awarded in June this year. This project is seen as the beginning of Phikwe’s revival and investors will be targeted to the area after the town has worn the ghost city status for almost half a decade.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has slashed its outlook the world economy projecting a significantly deeper recession and slower recovery than it anticipated just two months ago.
On Wednesday when delivering its World Economic Outlook report titled “A long difficult Ascent” the Washington Based global lender said it now expects global gross domestic product to shrink 4.9% this year, more than the 3% predicted in April. For 2021, IMF experts have projected growth of 5.4%, down from 5.8%. “We are projecting a somewhat less severe though still deep recession in 2020, relative to our June forecast,” said Gita Gopinath Economic Counsellor and Director of Research.
The struggle of humanity is now how to dribble past the ‘Great Pandemic’ in order to salvage a lean economic score. Botswana is already working on dwindling fiscal accounts, budget deficit, threatened foreign reserves and the GDP data that is screaming recession.
Latest data by think tank and renowned rating agency, Moody’s Investor Service, is that Botswana’s fiscal status is on the red and it is mostly because of its mineral-dependency garment and tourism-related taxation. Botswana decided to close borders as one of the containment measures of Covid-19; trade and travellers have been locked out of the country. Moody’s also acknowledges that closing borders by countries like Botswana results in the collapse of tourism which will also indirectly weigh on revenue through lower import duties, VAT receipts and other taxes.
Latest economic data shows that Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the second quarter of 2020 with a decrease of 27 percent. One of the factors that led to contraction of the local economy is the suspension of air travel occasioned by COVID-19 containment measures impacted on the number of tourists entering through the country’s borders and hence affecting the output of the hotels and restaurants industry. This will also be weighed down by, according to Moody’s, emerging markets which will see government losing average revenue worth 2.1 percentage points (pps) of GDP in 2020, exceeding the 1.0 pps loss in advanced economies (AEs).
“Fiscal revenue in emerging markets is particularly vulnerable to this current crisis because of concentrated revenue structures and less sophisticated tax administrations than those in AEs. Oil exporters will see the largest falls but revenue volatility is a common feature of their credit profiles historically,” says Moody’s. The domino effects of containment measures could be seen cracking all sectors of the local economy as taxes from outside were locked out by the closure of borders hence dwindling tax revenue.
Moody’s has placed Botswana among oil importers, small, tourism-reliant economies which will see the largest fall in revenue. Botswana is in the top 10 of that pecking order where Moody’s pointed out recently that other resource-rich countries like Botswana (A2 negative) will also face a large drop in fiscal revenue.
This situation of countries’ revenue on the red is going to stay stubborn for a long run. Moody’s predicts that the spending pressures faced by governments across the globe are unlikely to ease in the short term, particularly because this crisis has emphasized the social role governments perform in areas like healthcare and labour markets.
For countries like Botswana, these spending pressures are generally exacerbated by a range of other factors like a higher interest burden, infrastructure deficiencies, weaker broader public sector, higher subsidies, lower incomes and more precarious employment. As a result, most of the burden for any fiscal consolidation is likely to fall on the revenue side, says Moody’s.
Moody’s then moves to the revenue spin of taxation. The rating agency looked at the likelihood and probability of sovereigns to raise up revenue by increasing tax to offset what was lost in mineral revenue and tourism-related tax revenue. Moody’s said the capacity to raise tax revenue distinguishes governments from other debt issuers. “In theory, governments can change a given tax system as they wish, subject to the relevant legislative process and within the constraints of international law. In practice, however, there are material constraints,” says Moody’s.
‘‘The coronavirus crisis will lead to long-lasting revenue losses for emerging market sovereigns because their ability to implement and enforce effective revenue-raising measures in response will be an important credit driver over the next few years because of their sizeable spending pressures and the subdued recovery in the global economy we expect next year.’’
According to Moody’s, together with a rise in stimulus and healthcare spending related to the crisis, the think tank expects this drop in revenue will trigger a sizeable fiscal deterioration across emerging market sovereigns. Most countries, including Botswana, are under pressure of widening their tax bases, Moody’s says that this will be challenging. “Even if governments reversed or do not extend tax-easing measures implemented in 2020 to support the economy through the coronavirus shock, which would be politically challenging, this would only provide a modest boost to revenue, especially as these measures were relatively modest in most emerging markets,” says Moody’s.
Botswana has been seen internationally as a ‘tax ease’ country and its taxes are seen as lower when compared to its regional counterparts. This country’s name has also been mentioned in various international investigative journalism tax evasion reports. In recent years there was a division of opinions over whether this country can stretch its tax base. But like other sovereigns who have tried but struggled to increase or even maintain their tax intake before the crisis, Botswana will face additional challenges, according to Moody’s.
“Additional measures to reduce tax evasion and cutting tax expenditure should support the recovery in government revenue, albeit from low levels,” advised Moody’s. Botswana’s tax revenue to the percentage of the GDP was 27 percent in 2008, dropped to 23 percent in 2010 to 23 percent before rising to 27 percent again in 2012. In years 2013 and 2014 the percentage went to 25 percent before it took a slip to decline in respective years of 2015 up to now where it is at 19.8 percent.