In the year that the Republic of Botswana will celebrate its 50th independence anniversary, Botswana Tourism Organisation will host the 10th annual Ecotourism and Sustainable Tourism Conference (ESTC) in Kasane, the gateway to the world famous Chobe National Park.
The area itself is a testament to Botswana’s dedication to ecotourism, as home to the world’s largest free roaming population of African elephants, some 120 thousand permanent residents and 60 thousand migratory herds.
Botswana’s conservation and preservation policies should ensure that this pristine product will be enjoyed by many generations to come and will benefit local communities.
In Botswana, a visionary government has led the way in making ecotourism work for both wildlife and the communities that share their homes with it, through a transition from consumptive to non-consumptive tourism and a country wide hunting ban since 2013. As a country Botswana believes in human – wildlife coexistence rather than conflict.
Botswana is not only arguably a global leader in ecotourism through their conservation initiatives, but also a leader in sustainable tourism. The government’s policies support and encourage rural community involvement in tourism through the provision of business development plans, assistance with infrastructure, and product development. Financial support is also provided through the tourism development fund and preferential citizen loan facilities. Investment and sustainability support is also provided through identifying and facilitating joint venture agreements with vetted and experienced members of the private sector.
The Botswana Ecotourism Certification System was developed in 2009 in collaboration with the University of Botswana. This system was designed to encourage and support responsible environmental, social and cultural behaviour by tourism businesses and make sure they provide a quality eco-friendly product to consumers. It comprises a set of voluntary quality performance standards, which are designed to meet or exceed basic environmentally responsible standards or legislation. The Botswana Ecotourism Certification System, covers more than 240 standards encompassing the following: environmental management, cultural resources protection and community development, socio-economic responsibilities and fundamental ecotourism criteria.
Botswana Tourism Organisation is been a member of The International Ecotourism Society (TIES) since 2007 and a member of The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) since 2011. In 2012, through the GSTC Early Adopter Program.
The OkavangoDelta Ramsar Site was certified, followed by its recognition as a Top 100 Global Sustainable Destination in 2014.
It was no surprise that also in 2014, the Okavango Delta was inscribed as the 1000th UNESCO World Heritage Site, a world renowned wilderness destination of heart-stopping game-viewing, untouched delta and extraordinary natural beauty.