Botswana continues its operation to shut down Airbnb owners in the country, saying that the owners are contravening Section 15 of the country’s Tourism Act.
Airbnb owners need to register and abide by the country’s Tourism Act of 2009. Section 15 of the Act reads:
(1) No person shall carry on, or assist in carrying on, any tourist enterprise otherwise than under and in accordance with the terms and conditions of a licence issued under this Act: Provided that the provisions of this subsection shall not apply to an employee of a tourist enterprise in respect of the performance of his or her duties as such employee, or to such enterprise as the Minister may, by regulation, where he or she considers it appropriate in all the circumstances, taking into account factors such as the size of the enterprise, its location or other pertinent matters, exempt.
While subsection 3 states that any person who contravenes the provisions of subsection one commits an offence, and is liable to maximum fine of P20 000 (USD1 800), or to imprisonment of a term not exceeding five years, or to both.
Felix Monggae, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Environment and Tourism told Tourism Update that the operation is ongoing, targeting illegal tourism operators. Monggae said to date they have closed seven operations and charged up to P15 000 (USD1 400) to those who were found to be illegally operating.
Monggae said that properties are being selected at random across the whole country. The Department of Tourism is leading the joint operation which includes the Botswana Police Service, Botswana Unified Revenue Services, Department of Forestry and Resources, Department of Wildlife and National Parks.