Unlike other economic sectors generating short and medium-term gains, tourism, when sustainably planned and managed, has proven to stimulate economies over the long-term. Botswana Tourism Organization (BTO) continues to make steps to boost the industry.
Botswana has already adopted a strong position on Tourism and the industry is the second-contributing industry after Diamonds driver.
“We are making continuous efforts towards increasing Botswana’s market share in the industry by diversifying and developing other parts of Botswana that are less developed, yet have so much potential to boost the tourism industry growth and product offerings,” said Myra Sekgororoane, the Chief Executive Officer at BTO.
Sekgororoane said in spite of government having adopted a strong position on tourism, more needs to be done to support the industry to realize its full potential. Botswana is well known for wildlife and wilderness. However, efforts to diversify the product are in progress.
She said there are great opportunities that the country seeks to leverage on such as cultural tourism, event and sports tourism. “These are areas which are currently in their early stages of development in Botswana and they promise great returns for the country,” said Sekgororoane.
“Botswana is currently exploring implementing non-consumptive tourism products, which will not only promote Botswana as more than a country that hosts the Big Five and beautiful flora-fauna, but as a country that has rich culture, noteworthy events that can promote not only international visits to Botswana but domestic and regional tourism as well,” said Sekgororoane.
Travel and Tourism is a vital part of the global economy. Generating roughly $1.2 trillion in global receipts in 2011, international tourism ranked as the fourth-largest industry in the world, after fuels, chemicals, and automotive products.
She said the growth in tourism figures during a global economic downturn indicates that Botswana continues to be a compelling destination for thousands of people around the world. The number of tourists visiting Botswana experienced a healthy growth of 10.7 percent by 2010 reaching a total of 2.1 million.
Tourism has been identified as an engine of growth and an industry with potential to contribute to economic diversification that will help to broaden our economic base. Travel and Tourism contribution to GDP is around 3.7 percent of total GDP while the Tourism Direct Gross Value Added (Pula) is at P2.9 billion.
“With such strong figures, it is clear to see that Botswana has the potential to grow further and mark itself on the map not only for its wildlife but for the culture and activities that it has to offer its visitors,” she said.
Sekgororoane blew her own horn on the Investment portfolio. “It is impressive as the industry is attracting investors locally and internationally in great numbers,” she said, adding that the industry has remained resilient and very competitive in global market.
BTO is on a serious drive to increase investment in community-based projects that will encourage the development and commercialization of areas, which are endowed with natural resources. Looking ahead, Sekgororome believes that the travel industry continues to change and evolve both on a local and a global level.