Sunday, June 23, 2024

Pricey Botswana lodges stir worry about impact on tourism

A report by Agence France-Presse (AFP) that places Botswana’s accommodation among the world’s most expensive is causing worry among Batswana on social websites that this may impact on tourism and the economy.

However, prominent economist, Dr Keith Jefferis, said on Wednesday in reaction to the international press agency’s report that all is well and that it is not as bleak as it sounds. Jefferis said high accommodation rates are unlikely to affect either tourism or the economy.

“If the hotels can generate reasonable income, then there is no reason to complain,” said Dr Jefferis, adding that in any case those that can afford will come and pay for the high-cost tourism that will boost the economy.

High prices fall in line with the policy of Botswana Tourism and government, which desires a high cost, low volume model to minimise overcrowding.

Dr Jefferis also said expensive hotels can also attract investors, as expensive services arouse investors’ interests in investing in that certain product.

Meanwhile, in a separate interview with The Sunday Standard, government spokesperson Jeff Ramsay said Botswana had a mix of middle and low cost accommodation in the camps in the Okavango.

Dr Ramsay said high prices should not scare off tourists. He said the three hotels quoted in the AFP report are very high end, and maximise their income stream from a finite environment.

“No, it will not scare away tourists as we have high, middle and low cost accommodation in the country. It may positively attract the attention of customers who will want to perhaps know more about why our Okavango-Chobe region attracts high rollers,” said Ramsay.

He added that pricing is a matter for the hotels and is presumably reflective of the principle of supply and demand. He said the government tends to benefit as by way of taxes and levies.

The report has sparked debate on social networks, with many arguing that these expensive hotels are only for the moneyed or foreigners. However, one Botswana citizen, Kabelo Ramokhutshwane, differed with this view.

“I have slept in them more than once and everything is up to date…. They are very nice hotels, trust me,” said Ramokhutshwane.

According to the AFP report, Botswana hotels ranked among the Top 10 most expensive hotels in the world based on cost per couple for a single night’s accommodation in US Dollars. Only North Island Lodge of Seychelles at $5,843 and Laucala Resort, Fiji, at $5,040, respectively, topped Botswana lodges in the ranking.

Khwai River Lodge was rated the third most expensive at a night’s cost of $4,060. Savute Elephant Camp was ranked the fourth most pricey at $4,020. Eagle Island Camp and Spa, rounded the top five with a cost per couple for a night at $3,970.

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