Botswana has launched a post-COVID 19 tourism and casino aid fund

Botswana, officially the Republic of Botswana, is a landlocked country situated in Southern Africa. A mid-sized country of just over 2.2 million inhabitants known as one of the hotspots for tourism in Africa furthers Botswana is rich in culture. It is a paradise for travelers wanting to experience the true essence of an African safari.

From exciting activities to an unforgettable experience, Botswana has it all from a regulated gambling scene to wildlife experience. Indeed, tourism is the second-largest revenue earner in the country, although the pandemic crisis made the sector vulnerable to the effect of the disease outbreak. Even though the disease spread in Botswana is low compared to other countries that stood at 1,308 with three deaths confirmed cases, the economic repercussion has been far-reaching within the tourism sector. These are worrisome considering the country’s position amid the crisis that, as mentioned earlier, tourism is the second-largest revenue earner.

On the other hand, its dependence on the international market has made the tourism sector feel the crisis pinch. As some of the leading countries from which tourist arrivals come from are among the most affected by the global coronavirus pandemic of which the 1.8 million tourist arrivals recorded in 2017 in Botswana, 84 percent were from Africa while the remaining 16 percent were from countries such as the United States, Germany, and the UK. Since the hospitality and tourism sector go hand in hand with land-based casino operations, there are several casinos establishment in the country in which the majority is feeling the pinch. As soon as international travel restrictions around the globe in which states are imposing bans on air travel, consequently, the Botswana tourism sector suffered a 72 percent loss in March 2020 according to Snap Survey. Thus, the casino operations also felt the brunt of the crisis as it is generally operators in the country rely on the tourism sector for its business to survive. Most of the land-based casinos are strategically located in hotels in Botswana. And knowing too well that online gambling is not regulated either legal in Botswana.

However, interestingly according to reports Botswana government has introduced some economic and fiscal relief initiatives to respond to the Covid-19 crisis, mainly hailing tourism. The tourism sector is eligible to benefit from this as part of managing the situation and mitigating coronavirus’s impact, among other things. The initiative aims to support workers and stabilize businesses in the tourism sector. Among other things the government set up were, the immediate measures of the establishment of the “Covid-19 Relief Fund”. The funds will provide wage subsidies for companies that have been affected by the pandemic. The wage subsidy covers 50 percent of employees’ basic salary between BWP 1,000 and BWP 2,500 ($84 and $208 respectively) per month from April to June. The goal is to retain as many jobs as possible in the tourism sector, considering the already high unemployment before COVID-19 stood at 20.7 percent in Botswana. As part of managing the crisis, the government also introduce a “do not cancel but postpone strategy” where pre-booked hotels and flight clients were encouraged to postpone their trips instead of canceling them altogether. Further, provide stimulus and accelerate recovery, the government introduced a loan guarantee scheme for 24 months, up to a maximum of $2 million per business. Post-COVID-19 plans include an economy stimulus from which the tourism and sub-sector such land-based casino operators will benefit.

Moreover, there are ten legal gambling facilities. The largest gambling city is Gaborone with three gambling facilities, 25 table games, 361 gaming slots, and video poker machines.

Therefore, Botswana has a well-regulated and functioning Gambling Authority that permits all the most common forms of gambling except for online gambling. It is not explicitly stated in the 2012 Act players are eligible to play on foreign international sites; there are no laws that prohibit bettors. Even though, before the 2012 Act, the two laws regulated gambling in the country, the Lotteries, and Betting Act, and the Casino Act.

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