April 11 2010: Following findings by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) on the untapped opportunities in the Botswana tourism industry, some smart tour operators, like Wilderness Safaris, have jumped to the occasion to tap into these growth areas.
With its Safari Adventure, the group wants to open new competition and target the market with a low budget.
“Often Botswana is perceived to be an expensive destination. It is not an expensive one; it is a high experienced destination,” Sally-Anne of Safari Adventure told Sunday Standard.
On the contrary, the people who pay to go to these areas, especially around the pristine areas of The Okavango Delta, do not complain of the service.
Now, the group that has presence in the Delta is extending coverage and taking advantage of the market that normally will have no high budget.
Already, Safari Adventure operates Kalahari Plains camp in the CKGR and another one in Khwai, which is a partnership with the community in that area.
She explained that with the camps around the communities, the move will also use the knowledge of these people of the CKGR and those around the Delta.
Already, substantial amount of money has been put into these projects within the last two years with an employment of 33 people in each camp.
Last month CEO of Wilderness Safaris Andrew Payne told Sunday Standard that there were keeping an eye on the controversial CKGR.
“There are huge opportunities that we see in Kalahari, but, the thing is you cannot push them all at once,” he said.
Sally-Anne revealed that the initiative will target the different market segments, but identified two, which will be key.
The first will be an independent adventurer who is person who will not normally book with a travel agency. There are plenty of those in Botswana.
The other market for the Safari Adventure is the big retailer. These are the guys who put up an itinerary and people buy them. Currently, there are no high structured tour operators who offer such product.
“It is a new offering,” said Sally-Anne, adding that they have special SADC rates.
Already, the product has been delivered in Namibia (6 camps), Malawi (4 camps), Zimbabwe (1 camp), South Africa (2 camps and Zambia with 2 camps.
Sally-Anne said there has been a tremendous response to the product by the market adding that it is attractive because they product security just like they do to the high end of the market.
At P1, 200 per person sharing, the rates are inclusive of all meals, activities, which promoters see as ‘a good deal’.
“We are planning (to open) more camps. It is a top draw card for people visiting.”
The camp in Moremi is in phased development and about P10 million is expected to be spent. The Kalahari Plains also cost P10 million although there is a possibility of expanding.
Payne told Sunday Standard that the company has cash reserves to finance these projects adding that they have $US 11 million (about P74.1 million) undrawn facilities from Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) of South Africa.