SADC ministers responsible for tourism in Botswana: Seychelles principle secretary attending

The principal secretary for Seychelles tourism and senior tourism consultant attended the 7th meeting of the SADC ministers responsible for tourism in Botswana.

Anne Lafortune, Seychelles’ Principal Secretary for Tourism, and Glynn Burridge, Senior Consultant, traveled to Gabarone, Botswana, to represent Seychelles at the 7th meeting of the SADC ministers responsible for tourism being held between July 6-9 at Gabarone’s Masa Hotel.

Arriving first, Glynn Burridge attended the technical session of the meeting on July 6 to assist in the preparation of the following day’s agenda and the main SADC document to be offered for the perusal of the SADC ministers with regard to the transformation of RETOSA (Regional Tourism Association of Southern African countries.)

He was joined on July 7 by the principal secretary the next day for the main meeting of the SADC ministers to ratify the documents pertaining to the transformation of RETOSA to become a tourism marketing arm of the organization.

The plan under consideration by the SADC ministers is the proposed transformation of RETOSA to become the agency responsible specifically for the marketing of Southern African tourism within SADC.

The main meeting saw a presentation and subsequent question-and-answer session by the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) to inform the transformation of RETOSA of best practices in tourism and benefit from the experience of the CTO followed by the ratification of proposals regarding the future branding, mandate, composition, functions, and funding of the revamped RETOSA body.

The session began with a video presentation of the various attributes of Botswanan tourism and an introduction of all ministers and senior officials present. This was followed by an explanation of the background to and reasons for the transformation of RETOSA and the interim work conducted by the technicians of the various member countries on that proposal.

A presentation on behalf of RETOSA regarding the different technical aspects of the proposed transformation and its anticipated structure and functions within the SADC framework, gave way to further consensus among the SADC top officials on the body`s proposed revitalization.

A talk about travel facilitation throughout the southern African region by the Tourism Business Council of South Africa highlighted such aspects of African travel as visa policy, destination marketing, aviation development, technology and innovation, and the need to enhance processes governing the efficient movement of travelers throughout the region in ways reflective of the growing importance of tourism in the global economy.

The potential of cross-border tourism in SADC was explored in a third presentation as an important element of future regional tourism expansion, laying bare the respective weaknesses and strengths of member countries in encouraging cross-border tourism in the SADC region and offering strong tourism products and services.

The afternoon session of the SADC ministers meeting continued with attendees asking questions of the presenters of the morning session as they navigated their way forward through the various issues impacting on SADC tourism, such as the continuing plague of the poaching of wild animals affecting the African continent.

A number of items of business were dealt with during the course of the afternoon before the meeting was adjourned prior to a RETOSA Board meeting scheduled for Friday, July 8, after which the Seychelles delegation is expected to return home.