The Regional Tourism Organization of Southern Africa (RETOSA), a Southern African Development Community (SADC) institution responsible for tourism growth and development as well as marketing across Southern Africa Member States recently held its 4th Extra-Ordinary Meeting of its Board which saw a record number of Private Sector representatives from the Region in attendance. The outgoing RETOSA Board members, comprising of Public Sector representatives from Member States in the Region, handed over to the new RETOSA Board, which comprises of representatives of the Tourism Authorities and Apex private sector Tourism bodies.
This new board structure, is a significant milestone in the life of this 20-year old organisation which was recently restructured, with a new value proposition for its key stakeholders, and a new vision which will be achieved through focused marketing and strategic investment.
Following a formal nomination process, Botswana, represented by Lily Rakorong, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Hospitality and Tourism Association of Botswana (HATAB) was unanimously elected as the new Chairperson of RETOSA.
In welcoming the new board members, Dr. Sem Shikongo, Chairman of RETOSA and Director of Tourism and Gaming, Ministry of Environment and Tourism in Namibia, said “Namibia wishes to thank the SADC countries for all the support they provided during Namibia’s tenure of the past 4 years. We sincerely wish the new board all the best in achieving the renewed mandate and the two key objectives: to increase competitiveness of the Region and, increased and improved global tourism market share for the Region.’
In accepting the baton from the outgoing chair, Rakorong said, “I am humbled for this opportunity to lead a team of very experienced people. My role is just to co-ordinate everyone who plays a key role towards securing the smart partnership between the Region’s private sector players and RETOSA. The SADC governments have now the urgent task to activate the tourism coordinating unit at the SADC Secretariat which is a key requirement for the completion of the RETOSA transformation.”
Rakorong is deputized by MD Maqutu, the CEO of Lesotho Tourism Development Corporation.
“As a member of RETOSA, South African Tourism would like to congratulate the new board led by Lily Rakorong. We look forward to working with RETOSA in forging smart, innovative and pragmatic partnerships that will contribute towards building and growing an economically vibrant and resilient Africa,” South African Tourism’s Chief Executive Officer, Sisa Ntshona said.
RETOSA’s revised repositioning strategy aims to move the SADC region share of tourism from its current 2% of global tourist arrivals and receipts respectively to 5 % within the next decade. This new vision is firmly founded on strong partnerships with the private sector operating in the region – a steep departure and a serious shift in paradigm from past practice which had seen more preoccupation with governments or public sector. Intra-Regional Tourism is essential to a thriving tourism economy in Region.
RETOSA member states include Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The primary objective of RETOSA is to facilitate and promote the development of equitable and ethical tourism throughout the Southern African Region taking due consideration of the overall development of the people, vis-a-vis the Region’s natural and cultural resources.
The organization works together with Member States’ Tourism Ministries, Tourism Boards and private sector partners to increase tourist arrivals to the region through sustainable development initiatives, improved regional competitiveness, and effective destination marketing.