As a matter of principle and training I have always found myself consciously slanting towards the Survival International (SI) camp based on among others, respect for the rule of social inclusion/justice and upholding of human rights.
These are undisputable prerequisites for any nation envisioning a progressive and sustainable nation. However SI’s recent move to sabotage/cripple the Botswana Tourism Industry, directly contradicts founding principles and objectives of a sector that all compatriots are intimately involved in uplifting. This move generally contradicts the youth, community and national economic diversity and prosperity agenda. However, the scope of this letter is to simply highlight the potential implications of this move on our Local Youth Development agenda.
Through various Youth Development grants/ financing initiatives (directly/indirectly), a good number of young people are either employed or self-employed in the Tourism Industry. Furthermore a great number of our enterprising young peoples’ enterprises are reliant/dependent on the prosperity of the Tourism Sector. These include manufacturers and service providers that survive directly and indirectly by supplying the Tourism industries such as, cleaning services, transport services, towel manufacture and suppliers, interior designers, food producers. The list is endless. Community Based tourism ventures will also collapse resulting in a decline of community revenue and economic activity. A good number of youth, particularly those in the arts and crafts, practically rely on tourists to make a living. The majority of the artifacts they make are bought by tourists that visit Botswana. Young people in performing arts such as poetry, traditional instrumentalists, dancers and groups alike rely heavily on the availability of tourists.
Assuming the SI dream materializes and Botswana does not welcome a single tourist, what does this mean? From a Youth Development point of view, this simply means the statistics of the youth development agenda will be negatively affected and reversed from the progress made thus far. This will mean a good number of self-employed young people and employed in this sector lose their investments and jobs respectively.
As highlighted earlier, I support and encourage the principle of social inclusion and upholding of human rights but I will not support and encourage sabotage of our Tourism Industry mainly based on the key role Tourism plays (and will continue to play) in attainment of our national youth development objectives and a diversified economy. This is indeed the point “when SI becomes an obstacle to Youth Development.”