Botswana tourism industry seems to have heeded advice from government to be careful when dealing with MATCH in procuring accommodation for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa.
Obenne Mbaakanyi, of Botswana Tourism Organisation, told The Telegraph that pricing and lack of guarantees were major inhibiting factors.
“Last year, MATCH came to Botswana to sensitise operators about its activities. But Botswana operators were not happy because of the costs and that there were no guarantees,” revealed Mbaakanyi.
MATCH, which some sections of the South African industry say rips off operators, procures accommodation and does ticketing for FIFA.
Apparently, one package for corporates costs about $US 1, 7 million that include a couple of tickets on it, but many local operators felt it was too expensive.
At a Tourism Pitso in 2007, Kitso Mokaila, the minister of Minister of the Environment, Wildlife and Tourism and the Chief Executive Officer of the Botswana Tourism Organisation advised those providing accommodation to be careful when dealing with World Cup contracts, adding that the problem with pre-booking was that there could be cancellations.
So far in Botswana, Sun International (or Gaborone Sun) is the only service provider that has signed an agreement with FIFA because of its network of hotels in SADC and South Africa.
Now Botswana wants to use its international tourism reputation for spill offs from the soccer showcase with a number of local tour operators and travel agents receiving enquiries from possible tourists.
So far, HATAB has compiled a list of hotels, lodges and motels to its inventory with Gaborone and its environs having 2 500 beds and Phikwe area having 500 bed capacities.
The country is expected to use its comparative advantage of peace, stability and low levels of crime to lure tourists who might want to see its wilderness.
“It is likely that some spectators will prefer to stay in Botswana during the World Cup games,” said Shaw Kgathi, minister responsible for sports.
“Of late, Botswana operators have been approached by international tour operators looking for partnerships in accommodation and transportation of their clients to their respective matches of interest.”
Four Japanese tour operators have visited to view accommodation facilities in Gaborone. The tour operators that have had enquiries from international operators include AT & T Monnakgotla, TRL Travel and Harvey World. Most of the nationalities making the enquiries were Asians, Japanese and Koreans.