The Hospitality and Tourism Association of Botswana (HATAB) has approached the government with an offer to help with the vaccine roll-out.
“The industry commits to fund the costs of vaccinating its own staff and also to mobilising all of its resources to the procurement, storage, distribution and administration of the vaccines. Subject to costs, it is believed that many businesses will also be willing to fund the costs of vaccines for some family members of staff to reduce risks of cross-infection and improve the welfare of the families concerned,” read the proposal submitted to the government.
HATAB also proposed that front-line tourism staff should be designated as essential workers and be given high priority in the allocation of vaccines.
It said Botswana had already lost a busy season for tourism due to COVID, and the next season commenced in May/June. If the industry could go to the market and credibly advise that, by then, all tourism staff would have been vaccinated, it would be possible to achieve a restart of the industry. Failure to achieve this in this time frame would result in tourists visiting other countries and defer recovery of Botswana's tourism industry until the busy season of 2022.
Botswana started a nationwide vaccine roll-out last month with the steady and slow pace attributed to limited vaccine supply. The country had received fewer than 100 000 doses of vaccine by April 6.
Botswana's low-density, mainly outdoor, tourism product is ideal for operation in a post-COVID-19 world. This, combined with a situation where all staff had been vaccinated, would give the industry a significant global competitive advantage and allow it to reopen much of its products earlier than those in other countries.