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Botswana missing out on Chinese tourism treasure trove?

According to the China Tourism Research Institute, 120 million Chinese tourists visited abroad in 2015 spending 104.5 billion US dollars in the process. This marks a 12% increase in the number of outbound tourists and a 16.7% increase on the money spent when compared with 2014. The institute says the main driving forces for the increases included personal income rise, favorable policies, and appreciation of RMB, the Chinese currency. 

The increase in China’s outbound tourists is a result of a number of reforms. Since the early 1990s, the Chinese government has liberalized its policy on travelling abroad.

Before then travelling abroad for the Chinese was very difficult. For example, before 1995, the application procedures for a private passport were very complicated and the process took as long as six months. In 1995 this duration reduced to a month and in 1997 a new policy was issued where private passports can be processed within 10 days.

Also, although the currency regulation still exists for overseas travel from China, there has been no strict enforcement. For example, before 1994, a traveler had to show a visa and passport in order to be granted a permit by Bank of China to obtain currency in excess of US$1000. Now, the Chinese can freely deposit and withdraw US dollars from their bank accounts.

With this liberalization of the travel policy and the excessive buying power of the emerging middle class, there has been a rapid increase of Chinese overseas travelers. The China Tourism Research Institute names Asian and European countries among top hosts of Chinese tourists and beneficiaries of their expenditure.

Is Botswana doing anything to cash in on the 104 billion dollars a year Chinese tourism treasure trove? Asked if they have a strategy to attract Chinese tourists to the country, Botswana Tourism Organization did not respond to a questionnaire from this publication.

However, Spokesperson of the Embassy of China in Botswana, Tang Shenping told this publication that more and more Chinese people are visiting other countries all over the world, including Botswana and other African countries. “China and African countries enjoy a profound and long term friendship. With the steady development of China-Africa relations and the establishment of Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), millions of Chinese people visited Africa, including Botswana, to enjoy the marvelous tourism resources and to explore business opportunities,” he said, adding that he believes that the number of Chinese people who visited Botswana in recent years has increased.

Asked what Botswana can do to attract even more Chinese tourist to its shores, Shenping highlighted that abundant tourism resources and good infrastructure make Botswana an ideal destination for Chinese tourists. To attract more Chinese tourists to Botswana, he suggested that Botswana should be promoted more to the Chinese people.

“Botswana and China are far from each other, so it is important to promote Botswana to ordinary Chinese people. For example, each year in Beijing, Shanghai and other Chinese cities, there are tourism expos, Botswana should participate,” he advised.

Shenping also suggested a visa facilitation arrangement. He said China has reached various visa facilitation agreements with a lot of countries worldwide. The visa facilitation arrangement includes visa exemption such as the one China has with Mauritius and Seychelles, visa on arrival like the one they have with Tanzania, and multiple entrance visa which lasts for ten years. According to Shenping, China has the multiple entrance visa arrangement with the USA, Canada, Britain, and Australia.

“We are engaging the Botswana government to make visa facilitation arrangement for Chinese visitors. We hope Botswana could shorten the duration of the visa application process for Chinese tourists,” he added.

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Matsheka seeks raise bond program ceiling to P30 billion

14th September 2020
Dr Matsheka

This week Minister of Finance & Economic Development, Dr Thapelo Matsheka approached parliament seeking lawmakers approval of Government’s intention to increase bond program ceiling from the current P15 Billion to P30 billion.

“I stand to request this honorable house to authorize increase in bond issuance program from the current P15 billion to P30 billion,” Dr Matsheka said. He explained that due to the halt in economic growth occasioned by COVID-19 pandemic government had to revisit options for funding the national budget, particularly for the second half of the National Development Plan (NDP) 11.

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Lucara sits clutching onto its gigantic stones with bear claws in a dark pit

14th September 2020
Lesedi La Rona

Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE) has this week revealed a gloomy picture of diamond mining newcomer, Lucara, with its stock devaluated and its entire business affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

A BSE survey for a period between 1st January to 31st August 2020 — recording the second half of the year, the third quarter of the year and five months of coronavirus in Botswana — shows that the Domestic Company Index (DCI) depreciated by 5.9 percent.

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Botswana Diamonds issues 50 000 000 shares to raise capital

14th September 2020

Botswana Diamond PLC, a diamond exploration company trading on both London Stock Exchange Alternative Investment Market (AIM) and Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE) on Monday unlocked value from its shares to raise capital for its ongoing exploration works in Botswana and South Africa.

A statement from the company this week reveals that the placing was with existing and new investors to raise £300,000 via the issue of 50,000,000 new ordinary shares at a placing price of 0.6p per Placing Share.

Each Placing Share, according to Botswana Diamond Executives has one warrant attached with the right to subscribe for one new ordinary share at 0.6p per new ordinary share for a period of two years from, 7th September 2020, being the date of the Placing Warrants issue.

In a statement Chairman of Botswana Diamonds, John Teeling explained that the funds raised will be used to fund ongoing exploration activities during the current year in Botswana and South Africa, and to provide additional working capital for the Company.

The company is currently drilling kimberlite M8 on the Marsfontein licence in South Africa and has generated further kimberlite targets which will be drilled on the adjacent Thorny River concession.

In Botswana, the funds will be focused on commercializing the KX36 project following the recent acquisition of Sekaka Diamonds from Petra Diamonds. This will include finalizing a work programme to upgrade the grades and diamond value of the kimberlite pipe as well as investigating innovative mining options.

Drilling is planned for the adjacent Sunland Minerals property and following further assessment of the comprehensive Sekaka database more drilling targets are likely. “This is a very active and exciting time for Botswana Diamonds. We are drilling the very promising M8 kimberlite at Marsfontein and further drilling is likely on targets identified on the adjacent Thorny River ground,” he said.

The company Board Chair further noted, “We have a number of active projects. The recently acquired KX36 diamond resource in the Kalahari offers great potential. While awaiting final approvals from the Botswana authorities some of the funds raised will be used to detail the works we will do to refine grade, size distribution and value per carat.”

In addition BOD said the Placing Shares will rank pari passu with the Company’s existing ordinary shares. Application will be made for the Placing Shares to be admitted to trading on AIM and it is expected that such admission will become effective on or around 23 September 2020.

Last month Botswana Diamond announced that it has entered into agreement with global miner Petra Diamonds to acquire the latter’s exploration assets in Botswana. Key to these assets, housed under Sekaka Diamonds, 100 % subsidiary of Petra is the KX36 Diamond discovery, a high grade ore Kimberlite pipe located in the CKGR, considered Botswana’s next diamond glory after the magnificent Orapa and prolific Jwaneng Mines.

The acquisition entailed two adjacent Prospecting Licences and a diamond processing plant. Sekaka has been Petra’s exploration vehicle in Botswana for year and holds three Prospecting Licenses in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (Kalahari) PL169/2019, PL058/2007 and PL224/2007, which includes the high grade KX36 kimberlite pipe.

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