The Hospitality and Tourism Association of Botswana (HATAB) is confident that the University of Botswana can help it address challenges the hospitality and tourism industry in Botswana is facing.
As such the two institutions have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to develop joint efforts for knowledge and information sharing as well as research and development of projects.
Speaking at the signing ceremony on August 23, 2019, HATAB Chief Executive Officer, Ms Lily Rakorong, said the need to initiate a partnership with UB was precipitated by a number of challenges faced by the hospitality and tourism industry in Botswana.
Some of these challenges are lack of data and information to inform decision making in the hospitality and tourism sector, lack of research in specific tourism focus areas to determine performance and lack of knowledge on the performance of the tourism industry economically.
Ms Rakorong also regretted the time it took to develop a tourism policy in Botswana given the lack of rigor due to the dearth of evidence-based research to support it. Another area of concern she mentioned, was lack of collaboration between academic institutions and industry such that it delayed industry participation in curriculum development in relation to required human capital, research funding as well as infrastructure development for tertiary institutions.
Therefore, Ms Rakorong said the MoU would respond to such challenges and that it would be at the forefront of the long awaited collaboration and partnership between the private sector and academic institutions.
So far, she said HATAB has proposed two studies – an assessment of the situational status of the hotel industry and a situational analysis of the mobile safari industry in Botswana. The two studies became a priority given the MoU was coming at a time government was now recognising tourism activities as a means of economic diversification hence encouraging Batswana to venture into the hospitality and tourism industry.
Earlier on, UB Vice Chancellor, Professor David Norris, also admitted that despite growth of Botswana’s tourism industry, there was still lack of or little research in the industry. Realising this, Professor Norris said during his keynote address at the 2018 HATAB Annual Conference in Maun he offered the association to engage UB to provide research support.
“Therefore, the Memorandum of Understanding between HATAB and UB is one way to collaborate and partner in addressing the unavailable data and information on tourism as well as expanding the learning and teaching between the industry and UB,” observed Professor Norris.
Consequently, the role of UB in the tourism industry, said the Vice Chancellor, includes collaboration with the industry to define tourism careers for students besides undertaking research and providing opportunities for academics to answer the hard questions needed in the industry.
Professor Norris added that it also includes defining the hospitality and tourism industry curriculum that met demands of the industry as well as a knowledge-based society in Botswana.
Speaking on behalf of the Director of the Okavango Research Institute, Ms Montle Siya who is Head of the Department of Tourism and Hospitality, said through the MoU they were looking forward to HATAB helping with student placements and internship.
Ms Siya also said the collaboration would open more opportunities between UB and HATAB and look forward to a day the tourism industry would fund infrastructure development in addition to multi-million Pula research projects at UB.