Tuesday, October 27, 2020

International tourists hunger for local food in Kasane

Market intelligence gleaned from a tourism value chain analysis strongly suggests that a S’gotti-type restaurant in Kasane would be hugely profitable.

As part of that analysis, consultants engaged by the Centre for the Development Enterprise (CDE) went up to Kasane and asked international tourists what they feel would enhance their guest experience of the tourist town. Some 35 percent of the respondents said that they would love to have an opportunity to patronise restaurants that offer local food. It was not just any other restaurant that they wanted to visit but a “clean and hygienic” one. As a matter of fact, 67 percent of the respondents said it was important that restaurants they patronise meet such standards.

The report that the consultants subsequently produced notes that Kasane has a severe shortage of high-skill chefs. Local food prepared by high-skill chefs and sold in a clean and hygienic place raises the bar way above the run-of-the-mill restaurant that ÔÇô with the exception of S’gotti Restaurant at Masa Square in the new Gaborone CBD, one doesn’t find in Botswana. In the main, international tourists come from western countries where food hygiene standards are very high and where public health authorities promptly shut down violators. When people from these countries visit Botswana and for obvious reasons, they will naturally seek out places where food hygiene standards are high.

Eating out is also a huge part of westerners’ lifestyle and according to one estimate, the French spend more than 40 percent of their income eating out. To his disappointment however, the French tourist who visits Kasane finds that opportunities for eating out are almost non-existent. The report says that while Kasane offers several nature-based tourism excursions, there are “only few options that relate to gastronomy.”

Capitalising on the popularity of borankana, some young people in the town have formed traditional dance troupes that perform for tourists at the main hospitality establishments like Mowana Safari Lodge and Chobe Marina Lodge. While this may literally be a step in the right direction, the cultural fare that Botswana has to offer is much broader than borankana. Other than eat mokoto and enjoy traditional dance, tourists would also want to shop. Noting that souvenir shops keep normal trading hours, the report says that as limited in Kasane – and Botswana generally, are opportunities for cultural experiences and shopping.

“Field research indicates that there are many entrepreneurs in the excursion sector in Kasane, and in the restaurant and craft sectors in Gaborone. However, there is little diversity of product, and therefore the enterprises are in direct competition with one another. There is a need to ‘expand the pie’ to create more opportunities to capture tourist expenditure locally. To enhance product supply, it was noted that the diversity and quality of local produce needed to be improved in Kasane, including for fresh produce. It was also indicated that enterprises could be better networked and linked, and therefore developing a consortium or clusters could improve consistency of supply,” the report says.

The end result of this whole scenario is that a tourist who visits Botswana flush with cash and intending to spend it in the country, ends up not using that money because the local tourist industry has very limited spending opportunities.

The consultants recommend that Botswana should increase opportunities for tourists to spend money on local souvenirs.

“There are extremely limited opportunities for tourists to spend money at Gaborone and Kasane urban areas and airports. Shopping provides ideal opportunities for domestic and international tourists to spend their out of pocket expenditure. Providing a series of high quality, easily transportable, attractive and value-for-money souvenirs will provide an opportunity to spend local currency. This activity will focus on strengthening the quality of products available, and also the location and number of retail outlets where travellers can procure them. In Gaborone, it was observed that souvenir businesses do not operate outside of business hours.”

The CDE which is a joint institution of the African, Caribbean, Pacific (ACP) countries and the European Union (EU), within the framework of the Cotonou Partnership Agreement. Its mandate consists of supporting the development of the ACP private sector and it engaged consultants to analyse Botswana’s tourism value chain. Its work has been taken over by the Private Sector Development Programme, a government of Botswana initiative that is being administered by Business Botswana.

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The Telegraph October 28

Digital edition of The Telegraph, October 28, 2020.