DURBAN: A Botswana-based tourism company won four awards at the ongoing Tourism Indaba that started here over the weekend and to end on Tuesday.
Uncharted Africa Safari, a tourism outfit that operates Jack’s Camp, was nominated by tour operators for the prestigious awards that have put the country on the map.
“We are promoting Botswana for it to be recognised worldwide. It is a prestige for Botswana,” Catherine Raphaely, Uncharted Africa Safari Managing Director, said in an interview after the awards.
The four awards: Best Safari Camp in Africa, Best Safari Camp in Southern Africa, The Good Safari Guide Team and Best Ecological Safari Camp were given at a function on Thursday at the Hilton Hotel.
“The tour operators believed in us by voting for us in all the categories. We do not know what we did because we did not ask people to vote for us,” she added.
The outfit was pitting strength against other operations in Zambia, Tanzania and South Africa. Uncharted Africa last year was in the international media when BBC Top Gear was filming in the Makgadikgadi Pans that caught the attention of the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA).
The EIA was concerned that the BBC show would attract other people to follow suit and damage the protected pans.
Although the BBC contacted the company about the filming of the programme, they wanted the crew to comply.
“We cannot compromise on our ideals. Top Gear can do it only if it complied with our requirements of using one track. That is why we said we could not do it,” explained Raphaely.
The BBC did not, however, use one track and it used cars together with quad bikes.
“The Environmental Investigation Agency was on it (the case) and it got people to think on the pans,” she added.
Uncharted Safari, which has 225 employees in Botswana, is one of the many tour operators that have been coming to the Indaba over the years.
It says that 4 percent of its gross earnings go to the government coffers and communities.
Raphaely explained that the Indaba is the most important marketing tool of the year and says she prefers Travel Markey of London, an international exhibition similar to the Indaba.
She added that Uncharted Safari, which is the only natural wildlife migration in the region, is justified to preserving this migration of wildebeest and zebras. Raphaely said that her interest is to see the level of migration like the one in East Africa.
The Makgadikgadi area and the rest of the country is a wildlife area and have more species than the rest of the region.