The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) in its 2017 Botswana economic report titled Travel and Tourism Economic impact shows that the largest share of tourist spending in 2016 came from residents than from international tourists.
According to the report, Botswana generated P6 519.2 million from residents and from international tourists she made P6 220.0 million.
“Domestic travel spending generated 51.2 percent of direct Travel & Tourism GDP in 2016 compared with 48.8 percent for visitor exports (i.e. foreign visitor spending or international tourism receipts),” says the report.
The report forecasts that in 2017 spending from residents will grow by 3.5 percent to P6 747.7 million whereas spending from international tourists will rise by 11.6 percent to P6 940.0 million.
An estimated 1 797 000 international tourist arrivals is expected in 2017. A decade from today in 2027 residents are expected to contribute P10 570 000 million to travel and tourism spending registering a growth estimate of 4.6 percent every year while international tourists will inject P11 146.6 million into the sector recording a growth estimate of 4.9 percent every year.
The 10-year spending and growth forecasts indicate a change from the current trend which the economic report demonstrates. A five-year trend between 2011 and 2015 shows from the report that tourist spending from international tourists has been under that of residents.
The tourist spending figures on their own do not tell much except suggesting that residents play a significant role in the local travel and tourism sector. However, when these figures are put within the context of the recently published research findings by Phemelo Morupisi and Lelokwane Mokgalo on the local travel and tourism sector, a story is revealed. The study, titled ‘Domestic Tourism Challenges in Botswana: a stakeholder’s perspective, is aimed at identifying and explaining current challenges faced in the development of domestic tourism in Botswana.
The information was gathered from purposively selected tourism stakeholders who explored the challenges encountered in the development of domestic tourism, the paper says.
“The findings indicated that domestic tourism in Botswana is lagging behind because Botswana has a mono product tourism offering which is wildlife based and highly priced leaving Batswana with one option of travel which is outbound. The second finding is that the culture of Batswana generally does not involve travelling for leisure activities because they always have to be in their farms and cattle posts. Thirdly the policy which advocates for a high value-low volume approach has resulted in high prices for tourism services in Botswana, especially accommodation,” says the study.
What this study is emphasising is that the domestic market remains crudely untapped citing that it is not where it should be and proposed that challenges need to addressed for progress to be realised.
It says that statistics show a rise in the number of Botswana citizens and residents visiting places outside the country for tourism purposes at the backdrop of a sixth of that number visiting local attractions. It attributes the outbound travel by Batswana to limited product offering in the local market, which it says creates an opportunity for the sector to increase its product offerings particularly looking at meeting the demand of Batswana.
The observation derived from the tourist spending figures and the state of the domestic tourism is that despite that the local tourism market is yet to mature and diversify; the contribution of citizens and residents shows potential to further drive the development of the sector.