The President, Lieutenant General Dr Seretse Khama Ian Khama has officially opened the Goo Moremi Resort also known as the Goo-Moremi Manonnye Gorge at Moremi village in the Tswapong constituency.
The Goo-Moremi Resort is a partnership between Botswana Tourism Organisation (BTO) and Moremi Manonnye Conservation Trust. Speaking at the event, the Minister of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism, Mr Tshekedi Khama said the day marked another milestone in the ministry’s effort to facilitate community involvement in tourism development.
Mr Khama said the ministry had set the tone for such developments through the Community Based Natural Resources Management Policy. The policy, he said, was to guide collaboration between government and communities in terms of tourism development and resources conservation.
He said the success of the policy was evident, as his ministry through BTO, had established a number of facilities around the country most of which were operating. Minister Khama said Goo-Moremi Resort was one example of what could be achieved if communities joined hands towards a common tourism development goal. He noted that the journey to setting up the project had been interesting and one full of memories, adding that the project was one of the first few carried out after repealing the old Botswana Tourism Act to allow BTO to invest in Greenfield projects.
However, Mr Khama said the resort still had other developments to be completed. He said the move to allow BTO to invest in such projects was necessitated by the realisation that most communities were not able to set up tourism operations on their own, owing to various challenges such as funds and skills. He said as a unique project, due diligence was ensured to minimise and mitigate challenges inherent within new tourism developments.
He said the spirituality and sacred nature of the place were taken into account when revamping it and was embedded in the story shared with visitors, as it is what makes the resort unique.
“Other BTO developments include Tsabong – The Ecotourism Camel Park, Qcwihaba Camp Site and Seboba Recreational Park in Kasane,” Minister Khama said.
These, he said, were part of the CBNRM dream that added to the government’s strategy for rural development, and had contributed to the preservation of resources, which were previously otherwise vandalised. He said prior to the establishment of the resort, the area faced challenges such as degrading of range resources and incidents of poaching, but added that once fully operational such environmental threats were resolved through, the involvement of the community among others. He said the Central District had potential for further tourism-based developments, which he said the ministry would harness with the intention if eventually developing.
For his part, BTO acting CEO, Mr Zibanani Hubona said the industry appreciates new developments such as Goo-Moremi. He said the development add to the country’s tourism offer and the diversification drive, particularly the community- based cultural and heritage tourism initiatives. Mr Hubona said the Goo-Moremi revamp project started in 2008 and employed 14 staff members who are residents of Moremi. Only the manager and the deputy are non-residents. He said the project was well branded and had been doing relatively well since inception.
Mr Hubona assured the community that the BTO would continue to support the venture and applauded those who played a role in ensuring that the project was a success.