As Botswana and the rest of the world travel and tourism industry is hit by global recession, domestic travel has been seen as alternative and the trend is to move into that market as it is already happening in developed countries.
But the situation in Botswana as compared to Europe and North America is seen wanting as domestic travel is still minimal.
Chief Executive Officer of Botswana Tourism, Myra Sekgororoane, said over the weekend that in mid 2008 and 2009 travel and tourism industries were seriously affected.
The recession affected inbound tourists around the world, which meant that local operators have to target domestic travellers by enticing them with good prices.
Sekgororoane said new trends will be the continued drive for the domestic market, shorter holidays and downgrade on normal standard offering, price wise.
However, in Botswana the issue of affordability of the local market and local people’s interest were the issue of debate at HATAB open season conference in Kasane.
Sally-Anne, a representative of Safari Adventures said the market cannot explain why Batswana are not interested in travelling locally despite available incentives.
“The majority of operators in Botswana have local rates”, said Sally Anne.
“In our operations, we have the SADC special rates”, she explained.
Despite this revelation, there has been reluctance from locals as they prefer to visit outside destinations in the region like South Africa, Mozambique or Namibia.
“Botswana Tourism Organisation (BTO) has supplements including specials, but there are not lot of people travelling”, she added.
“Journalists went to the destinations, but there has not been upswing. The message is there, but we do not really know why (less Batswana travel)”.
Developed markets like U.S and UK have seen an increase in number of domestic travellers that helped weather the global recession.
Traditionally, these two countries are top markets for Botswana.
Argument for Botswana has always been a policy that Botswana uses for its product offering.
Botswana has adopted the approach of high-value, low-value which has been blamed for not diversifying the product although it protects the environment while at the same time bringing huge profits to the operators.
Dr Happy Fidzani, Executive Director of government economic think tank, BIDPA, suggested to the industry that the strategy should be balanced by the high-volume approach.
“There has been argument to balance the two”, said Fidzani.
Already, markets like Kenya use the approach although it damages the environment, but bringing the much needed money.
Botswana is however allowing a policy shift in the swamps by permitting the operators to increase the rooms so as to reduce pricing.
Around 40 rooms will be permissible, according to government officials from the current -25.
Most of Botswana’s inbound visitors come from the region especially South Africa and the U.S.