The Southern African countries contribute the biggest portion of inbound visitors to Botswana, usually arriving by road, to conduct business, with some visiting friends and family.
Statistics Botswana’s 2016 tourism report, which was released on Thursday shows that the country received a total of 1.72 million visitors, with 91.9 percent or 1.5 million made up of tourists, also known as overnight visitors, while 8.1 percent or 138,021 were same day visitors. The number of visitors received in 2016 was a 3.1 percent uptick from the 1.66 million recorded in 2015.
In 2016 the majority of tourists came for business purposes, followed by those who were visiting friends and relatives (VFR). Business visitors who account for 30.6 of total visitors took a knock, recording a decline of 6.7 percent from 561,967 in 2015 to 524,097 during the current year.
There was also a drop of 33.5 percent from 94,741 in 2015 to 63, 007 for the number of tourists who came for purposes of “Religious, Conferencing, Sports, Medical and Shopping activities” which are grouped together under one category called ‘Other’ Purposes. These tourists represented the 3.7 percent of all tourists who came to Botswana during the year under review.
In contrast, visitors in transit which represent about 20.8 percent of total visitors increased by 17.8 percent to 356,436, while those visiting relatives and family also bumped by 11.2 percent to 492, 377, representing about 28.8 percent of total visits.
According to the latest figures from the statistics agency, the Southern African countries (SADC) contributes the most to tourist arrivals, bringing in about 1.5 million visitors or 87.3 percent of total tourists. Leading the pack was Zimbabwe with about 598,738 visitors, representing 40 percent of the SADC arrivals. After the economic crisis in Zimbabwe that began in early 2000, Zimbabweans have sought economic refugee in neighbouring countries. On the heels of Zimbabwe was South Africa, the continent’s economic powerhouse, which brought in 591,907 visitors or 39.6 percent of SADC arrivals.
Overnight Tourists constituted at least 90 percent of total tourists at country level for the top ten SADC countries, in the exception of Zambia and Namibia during the period under review. Day trippers from Zambia accounted for 62.3 percent of all day trippers from the ten leading SADC countries and 34.4 percent of total tourists from that country.
There were 154,246 tourists or 9 percent from overseas, with the United States at the top rung, bringing in about 41,554 or 26.9 percent, while the United Kingdom represented 18.9 percent (29,180), and Germany at 18.8 percent (29,064).Overnight Tourists from the United States of America, the United Kingdom and Germany make more than 90 percent of the total tourists from each of those three countries respectively.
With lack of flight connectivity between SADC countries, road travel accounted for the highest percentage of tourists who came into the country at 93 percent (1.6 million), followed by those who flew-in at 7 percent (119,546). Rail Travel was recorded only in February for 52 tourist arrivals.