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Breathing Life into Botswana’s Travel Industry

Botswana says it will allow chartered flights to the country’s prime tourist destinations starting November 1, in an attempt to boost a sector that has lost hundreds of millions of dollars since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Flights will be allowed to land at two airports in Maun and Kasane, two prime tourist resorts, in the vicinity of the vast Okavango Delta. Botswana’s minister of environment, natural resources conservation and tourism, Philda Kereng, said in a statement that the government is finalizing rules to facilitate the arrival of tourists.  These will include protocols to contain the spread of COVID-19, she said. Tour operators around the world’s largest Delta are optimistic following this week’s announcement. Tourism contributes around 13 percent of the diamond-rich country’s GDP. However, the industry has lost about $220 million in canceled bookings since travel restrictions were imposed in March. With the flights beginning Sunday, officials hope to recover some of that revenue.