As the clock ticks towards the beMobile Marathon which will be held in Francistown on the 15th of February, 2015, a day after Valentine’s Day, Botswana Tourism Organisation (BTO) has urged entrepreneurs in the second city to take advantage of this event.
Francistown which is feared to be slowly becoming a ghost town is expected to come to life as the marathon will be the first of its kind in the city. One thousand participants including foreigners are expected to participate in this marathon.
Speaking during the beMobile Marathon Pitso which was held in Marang hotel in Francistown last week, the Head of Communications and Public Relations at BTO, Keitumetse Setlang urged the Francistown business community to take full advantage of this event and make money. He also implored the entrepreneurs to provide quality services and products to participants as this will create a good image about Francistown. Setlang said businesses such as accommodation providers, transport providers and food caterers can immensely benefit from this rare opportunity. She also said the beMobile Marathon is a very important event for Francistown as it will help market the city and put it on the map.
“This is a good opportunity for the business community in Francistown to participate in this event and make good business. Apart from making money, the city of Francistown will also benefit immensely through this event as it will help put its name on the map and help attract investors. We are all aware that there is a serious concern that Francistown is slowly losing its vibrancy and it is lagging behind in terms of developments. Through sports tourism, Francistown can revive its image. We are also proud as Botswana Tourism Organisation to be part of this event more so that it is sports tourism. Globally, the sports tourism industry is worth $600 billion and as such Botswana can equally benefit from this initiative,” he said.
Setlang also encouraged the business community in Francistown to provide good services and products to the participants as this will create a long lasting impression about Francistown to visitors. She further encouraged the private sector to fully support this initiative so that it grows into a well known event even globally.
“We want to see this marathon grow so that in the future it sustains itself without the support of the private sector or any other sponsors. We have seen similar events in South Africa such as the Durban Marathon which began with only 500 participants. It now boasts of 20 000 participants annually. This is possible with the Francistown beMobile Marathon,” she said.
Giving an update on the preparations for the marathon, the main organiser of the marathon, Ben Tobedza said the preparations are on good course and a high number of Batswana are interested in this event. He said that they currently have 30 volunteers who are helping them with the preparations. Tobedza also showered accolades on the Francistown City Council for being supportive.
“The city council has been very supportive in this initiative as they provided us with a number of their resources. For now we have registered 400 participants and we are very positive that this number will increase as many people are coming forth to register. We have done our best in advertising this event in many ways, such as radio interviews, posters, flyers and we also have a website in place that has got every detail about Francistown and the marathon itself. We also have a face book page. We believe this marathon will help revive the city of Francistown,” said a clearly confident Tobedza.
He also said that the private sector especially the corporate businesses have been supportive of this initiative.
The main sponsor of the event is Botswana Telecommunications Limited (BTCL) through its beMobile brand and it has injected P500 000 into the project.
The other sponsors include, Debswana, Motor Vehicle Accident (MVA) Fund, The Sunday Standard, The Voice, Duma FM, Cresta, KBL and Emergency Assist 991.
According to Tobedza the marathon’s start and finish points will be at the Francistown Stadium and the event will begin at 05:00 in the morning.
The registration fees for the marathon range from P150 for adults and P100.00 for persons under the age of 18 years of age. There will also be a different fee for those who will be running for fun and it will cost P50.00.
For his part, the Head of Communications at the Botswana Telecommunication Corporation Limited (BTCL), Tiro Kganela, said the marathon is not profit oriented but is meant to raise funds to help the needy.
He also revealed that the sponsorship is part of a pledge made by BTCL Chief Executive Officer, Paul Taylor when he was opening the Botswana Confederation of Commerce Industry and Manpower (BOCCIM) Northern Trade Fair last year that BTCL will help turn Francistown into a vibrant place.
“As BTCL we are also tasked with giving back to the communities that we do business in. This is part of our Corporate Social Responsibility.”