The second instalment of the annual Makgadikgadi Epic will return bigger and better this weekend; that is if the organisers’ words are anything to go by. Briefing the media on Friday, September 25, Botswana Tourism Organisation (BTO)’s CEO Thabo Dithebe said given the success of the 2014 event they have every right to expect a more successful Epic this year. Dithebe said the 2014 event had a big impact as far as socio-economic benefits are concerned.
He said they chose to host the event during independence holiday weekend to attract a larger crowed and allow attendants enough time to travel. Speaking on the economic benefits of the event, Dithebe said BTO conducted a study to provide a baseline against which the economic impact of the future events can be measured. He said according to their study a total of 2000 spectators attended the 2014 Makgadikgadi Epic.
Of the 2000 spectators, 177 were interviewed and the majority came from Francistown and Nata areas at 19 percent and 18 percent respectively. “This time the capital city Gaborone trailed behind with 12 percent, a sign of progress in terms of the organisational efforts to roll out the sport tourism product over a wide geographical area to promote domestic travel,” says Dithebe.
He said as far as economic impact is concerned a total of well over P2 million was made by businesses in the area. He said although the majority of attendants hailed from the surrounding areas and spent little on accommodation, the occupancy rate at Nata accommodation facilities stood at 99 percent during the 2014 Epic. “Place of residence during the event is considered one of the factors that have a bearing on expenditure,” Dithebe said, adding “The Burden of accommodation and underlying costs is usually high among non-residents.”
He said about 59 percent of spectators stayed at their own places of residents. He said spectator expenditure on various items including accommodation, transportation, food, entertainment, firewood and other items was generally impressive. “As a result a total of P2, 625, 100 is estimated to have accrued to the business community in the form of revenue sales, the CEO said.” He said over P62, 000 generated from tandem jumps, boat drives, quad fun rides, gate takings, game drives and a share of the campsite profits was disbursed to the community trust to fund developments. BTO will hold the Epic in partnership with Parachute Association of Botswana (PAB) & Nata Conservation Trust. Speaking on behalf of PAB Garai Makaya said there would be more sky diving jumps and other activities at this year’s Epic. He said the icing on the cake will come in the form of Germany’s multiple world champion sky diver, Olaz Zipser. The German spearheaded the FreeFly revolution of the early 1990’s when he began experimenting with non-traditional forms of body flight.
Since then he has been part of the world wide sport of FreeFly. He has won more than 51 gold medals from various international skydiving competitions around the world and has done more than 23 000 skydives. Zipser has also trained at least 15 world champion sky divers from across the world. The second annual Makgadikgadi Epic will take place from the 2nd ÔÇô 4 th October 2015. The Makgadikgadi Epic, predominantly a skydiving event, will offer the general public and skydivers three days of skydiving and many more fun activities near one of the largest salt pans in the world, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans. BTO says through the event, they seek to diversify product offering in the greater Makgadikgadi area, and hope to make the 2015 event an experience of a lifetime.