Botswana Tourism Organisation (BTO) has urged the Botswana tourism operators to use international platforms such as Indaba to market their products and services as tourism is an important sector for most of African economies.
In an interview with Sunday Standard, BTO Marketing Manager Obenne Mbaakanyi said that BTO has been participating at the just recently ended South African top travel show Indaba in Durban since its inception over 15 years ago.
Asked on the opportunities particularly for the small medium businesses, she said top travel shows such as Indaba give service providers a chance to exchange ideas and to sell and promote the different destinations of tourism.
“Operators need to get their products out there and network and form business connections about products and packaging,” said Mbaakanyi.
She further said there are also tour operators coming as far as USA, Europe, India and also China who could benefit the Botswana tourism industry. She revealed that BTO had 26 Botswana operators that showcased at the annual Indaba, adding that it is a drop from last year’s number. She said the increase in participation fare prices affected Botswana operators.
“We are still not underrepresented in any way because other companies decided to stand on their own and have business meetings,” said Mbaakanyi.
She further said that it is important for business operators to offer new innovative services to clients all the time. She observed that there are new exciting new comers in the tourism industry that are pushing the envelope doing amazing things such as eco friendly products introductions. Mbaakanyi said that this year BTO managed to bring along 16 SMMEs to the Indaba adding it is good in the sense that the small enterprises are seeing the value and opportunities at the international exposure.
“Competition is important for all market players and tourists always want the best among the best,” said Mbaakanyi.
According to Mbaakanyi, BTO’s confidence in the tourism market remains high adding that BTO was also delighted to meet with other international giants in the tourism sector for exchange of information, networking as part of marketing. She is also optimistic that Botswana tourism sector is expanding its footprints doing business with other foreign companies as well as attracting and bringing more tourists to Botswana.
She stated that BTO had only one cancellation because of Xenophobia adding perseverance is an important attribute to any business. She said the recent xenophobic attacks did not affect Indaba as it was well attended.
Asked on the challenges facing the tourism sector, Mbaankanyi pointed out that tourists wanting to come to Botswana have been experiencing difficulties in getting visas. “We operate in a competitive global industry and international markets also change. It is about fulfilling tourism and offering top quality products and services,” said Mbaakanyi.
She is of the view that tourism is a key player in every economy in diversifying the economy and added that the hospitality and tour operators are the biggest beneficiaries. She also observed that the South Africa tourism sector is doing well to meet the target and added that Botswana’s target is also achievable and requires the skill, professionalism, resources commitment and benchmarking with South African tourism industry as well as the rest of the region.