Is Botswana shooting itself in the foot?

By | Category: Travel news

a honey badger promotes Botswana rather than a rhino or elephant

From June 1st, Botswana will introduce a Tourism Development Levy on all visitors coming from outside SADC countries. It means that visitors from anywhere else will have to pay $30 on entry regardless of whether you stay one day or twenty.

The system will operate as follows. At the airport or place of entry into the country you will pay by cash, debit or credit card. After the payment, a unique receipt to match with your passport will be automatically generated. The receipt should be given to immigration where it will be stamped and handed back to the traveller. You do not have to obtain it before you travel.

Of all the tourists that go to the country only about 11% or 190,000 come from outside the fifteen African countries that make up SADC – Southern African Development Community. Even if you enter Botswana from South Africa, for example, you will be liable to pay the levy if you are a citizen or a resident of a non-SADS country.

The hospitality and tourism industries have objected to this levy but it seems that, this time, their objections have not been heeded. (A previous attempt to introduce a tax or levy was thwarted.)

The levy is expected to raise about $5.7 million if tourism numbers are as expected, not a great deal in the scheme of things and will be usedto raise funds for conservation and national tourism development in order to support the growth of the industry and broaden the tourism base, resultantly improving the lives of the people of Botswana.” But if the numbers are not as projected it could hurt Botswana tourism and tourism industries.

You could argue that Botswana needs to encourage more visitors from non-SADC countries as they are likely to spend more once in the country. Introducing a tax of $30 per person may deter some especially families. Wouldn’t people be more likely to travel to neighbouring countries like Malawi, Zambia or Namibia? Probably not and the reason is that there is no visa requirements for British citizens  entering Botswana whereas a visa for Malawi would cost £50 as would a Zambian visa and one for Namibia, £60. Only South Africa does not require Britons to have a visa

Botswana may just get away with this as it has no visa charge. Only time well tell if the country has shot itself in the foot.

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