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Botswana wins tourism award

BEIJING - Botswana, through the Okavango Delta Ramsar Site (ODRS), is winner of the Destination Stewardship Award of the Tourism for Tomorrow Awards.

The award was conferred at the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) Global Travel and Tourism Summit in Beijing, China on Wednesday.

Botswana beat other two finalists; Mount Huangshan Scenic Site of China and Ministry of Tourism of Montenegro owing to the unique ODRS plan.

The award is conferred in recognition of a destination, country or region with a network for tourism enterprises and organizations that show dedication to and success in maintaining a programme of sustainable tourism management.

The ODRS nominated by Botswana Tourism Organisation in recognition of its contribution towards upliftment of tourism and livelihood of not only people living around it but all Batswana.

It is a unique water and game rich area, which includes the Tsodilo hills (UNESCO World Heritage Site), the Moremi Game Reserve, Wildlife Management Areas and community lands.

Minister of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism, Mr Kitso Mokaila, who could not hide his excitement, said in an interview that the award was in recognition of the job that the country and other local tourism stakeholders were doing in the delta.

He said the bulk of programmes in the delta were geared towards conservation of the eco-system and that resonated well with investors who invariably want to be assured of a country's environmental conservation initiatives.

However, Mr Mokaila said the award should not breed complacency since there was a lot that still needed to be done for the country's tourism star to continue shining the brightest throughout the world.

Meanwhile, chairman of judges, Tourism for Tomorrow Awards, Mr Costas Christ, said they received about 160 entries after which intense selections were done until they remained with three finalists for each of the four awards that were up for grabs.

In addition, he said they went an extra mile by sending a team of judges to the bidding sites, adding that the judges also had the opportunity to conduct interviews with the communities and leaders as well as other stakeholders involved. "They did a sterling and comprehensive job." Mr Michael Singh who was assigned to the Okavango Delta said Botswana was an example of what other developing countries should do in terms of corporate governance.

"The Botswana government is doing a great job in developing the tourism industry especially the Okavango Delta since it is now a high end product."

Meanwhile, Mr Singh said the ODRS was a wonderful and well-conducted effort which also needed to take other players on board.

"More could also be done to bring the San into the product as people are more interested in their culture and as such they should be integrated into the tourism sector," he said.

(27 May 2010, BOPA, Daily News)



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