KASANE ÔÇô Dr Sid Boubekeur, Head of the Centre for Development Enterprise (CDE)- Southern Africa Regional Office, last week told the annual Hospitality and Tourism Association of Botswana (HATAB) conference that there is great potential for new sustainable tourism products in Botswana.
While he applauded the huge international awareness of Botswana as a wildlife destination, Dr Bouberkeur said it was worriesome that the country seems capitalise on one tourism market segment. To thet end, he said, there is high potential for new sustainable tourism products and services, including cultural and heritage sites that could impact positively pon the stay of tourists.
The CDE head singled out farm stay and village stay as additional new products that could help to diversify the national tourism offering and stabilize the current level of wildlife tourism in the country. Acccording to Bouberkeur, Botswana┬┤s cattle industry offers a great opportunity for farm stays. Internationally this type of tourism niches are said to be very popular among certain tourist groups and would certainly be an additional attraction for Botswana┬┤s tourism industry.
“Visitors spend a day or two in order to experience life on a huge cattle farm, which helps to understand the daily challenges. This would be key to experiencing the genuine Botswana,“ he said.
He also revealed that a new profile of European Union tourists have indicated a clear trend towards experiencing a country at its roots.
“Village stays would offer a unique opportunity to provide such a natural and sustainable experience. Only minimal requirements are needed to enable a community to receive visitors. Awareness programmes and staff training is needed in order to initiate such products and services as well as to maintain certain standards and service levels.“
Botswana, Africa arrivals to grow
Meanwhile the CDE has forecasted that tourism arrivals in Botswana from Europe will continue to grow due to interest among international travellers on this continent.
“Botswana is mainly a destination for wildlife and is very well-known in the European Adventure Tourism Market,” Bouberkeur said last week.
With arrivals set to increase steadily over the forecast period, tourism analysts expect to see more international developers taking note of the potential offered by this untouched eco-tourism destination. Available market figures show that inbound travel to Botswana has been increasing steadily. The country has worked hard to raise its global profile, and the recent inclusion of the Okavango Delta as the 1000th World Heritage Site on the UNESCO World Heritage List will no doubt help to further raise awareness of Botswana’s myriad attractions.
A key limitation to future growth of Botswana’s tourism industry is the under developed transport network. At present, both inbound and outbound travel is primarily from and to Botswana’s nearby neighbours, including regional powerhouse South Africa and Namibia. Travel between these countries is primarily by road, where crumbling infrastructure means transit times are extended and the safety record is poor.