Bridgetown project expected to boost Botswana’s tourism sector

Kazungula is basically a small community on the eastern side of Kasane.  Chobe National Park is on the west side of Kasane.  Kazungula is most ‘famous’ as a border crossing.  It is a location where the one can enter/leave Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia and/or Nambia.  The Zambia or Nambia route requires taking the famed Kazangula Ferry.  We’ve noted the importance of this border crossing town in our discussions of travel to Victoria Falls.

From the Sunday Standard, article by Gowenius Toka

The Bridgetown project in Kazungula (or Kazangula) which is valued at P164 million has been hailed as a significant project that will complement Botswana’s employment creation and economic diversification efforts.

Vice President Mompati Merafhe said at the project’s ground breaking ceremony that Bridgetown has great potential to help turn Botswana’s vision into reality.

He said that Botswana aims to be economically stable and prosperous, and attain high income status within the next ten years.

“Government has identified the tourism industry as one of the engines of Botswana’s economic growth, with potential to provide employment and investment opportunities for our people,” said Merafhe.

He said that initiatives like Bridgetown, which are geared at improving the tourism sector, are therefore welcome and encouraging.

Bridgetown Resort (Pty) Ltd is a citizen owned company. The project will include in 92 luxurious and spacious self catering apartments, all fully furnished and equipped with the latest technology.
It will also have 74 two bed roomed apartments, and 18 single bed roomed apartments.
In addition, the resort will also offer shuttle services to neighboring countries such as Namibia, Zimbabwe Zambia and other tourist destinations in the region.

The project is expected to employ 54 people on completion.

Bridgetown Resort will not only create employment, but will also serve to improve the architectural landscape of Kazungula.

For his part Patrick Balopi, former Speaker of the National Assembly and one of the Directors of Bridgetown, said that they took heed of concerns made by residents during the Environmental Impact Study, and engaged in Kgotla consultative meetings, after which the project was given green light.
Such concerns included the need to observe protected archeological sites; ensure beneficiation to licensed citizen small tourist operators and guard against possible pollution of the Chobe River.
“We can assure you that Bridgetown has complied with all the necessary legal and policy initiatives related to this development. We achieved all these at a very heavy but necessary cost” he said.

He also acknowledged the support given by the relevant Government Departments throughout the planning and design of the project.

He said that Botswana needs to identify economic diversification opportunities particularly in areas with comparative advantage for citizens and local entrepreneurs.

Government spends more than P20 billion on goods and services per annum, and can therefore use the enormous purchasing power to drive economic diversification through procurement of locally produced goods and services.

In conclusion, Balopi said that he found it appropriate to encourage more Batswana to invest in tourism, which is the mainstay of the economy and a major source of employment.

Currently the tourism industry employs about 22 000 people. Of this number 16 000 are estimated to be employed in the Hotel and Restaurant sectors. The growth target indicates that 50 000 will be employed by 2015.

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