SOUTH African Tourism (SAT), an organization that markets South Africa as a tourism destination, recently hosted a two day workshop in Gaborone which aimed at encouraging partnerships between Botswana trade and their SA counterparts, as well as tour operators and travel agents.
According to SAT Account Manager, Sindisiwe Gugushe, other objectives of the two-day workshop, which was held at the Gaborone International Conventions Centre (GICC) and ended on April 1st, was to position SA as a “top of mind” leisure destination and to educate trade on the marketing tools available to them.
This trade workshop presented an excellent opportunity for both Botswana and South Africa’s Tourism Authorities to present their unique, diverse and affordable travel opportunities.
The South Africans High Commissioner to Botswana, Dikgang Moopeloa, was also present at the workshop. In his remarks, Moopeloa urged both South Africa and Botswana to position themselves and take the opportunities which are available in both countries, especially for the 2010 World Cup.
“There are about 55 thousand FIFA family members coming to SA for the 2010 World Cup. Out of this number, SA has managed to secure only 35 beds, and now it is up to Botswana to grab this opportunity. And we have to try from time to time to improve the quality of our products so as to attract these visitors after the World Cup,” he stated. He said it is very important for these two countries to be partners not competitors.
“As SA, we are not going to develop alone. We want to develop together with the SADC countries, therefore, we have to know how best to strengthen our base and also position ourselves as a joint team that will enable us to prosper,” he emphasized.
Moopeloa said that what he had observed is that businesses in Botswana do not take this seriously. What they want as SA, he said, is to expose Botswana, and for Botswana to expose SA too. “We have to start with the number that we have, focus on it and work beyond that,” he said.
With this workshop, Nothando Mathe, Country Manager SADC, SA Tourism, stressed that they only wanted SA trade to make contacts with Botswana trade. All that has to be done by these two countries Mathe said is to look beyond 2010. She said there is a need to have a strategy that will attract back the visitors. “As Southern Africa, collectively we need to market our region very strongly. We have to see our investment even after 2010,” she said.
It was also revealed at the workshop that the number of Batswana traveling to SA has been steadily increasing over recent years, with figures in 2007 showing that a total of 818 000 travelers crossed the border from 762 500 the previous year, which is a 7 percent increase.
“Although such figures look impressive, tourism in SA is yet to really benefit from the influx of Batswana visitors, as the majority of them do not come here for leisure purposes,” said Mathe.
Mathe said Batswana traveled to South Africa for “multiple reasons”, with the main motives being business, family visits and shopping.
“Many of them come from what we call ‘well to do segments’ of the population. More than 55 percent of these segments are made up of married couples, aged between 35 and 44, traveling with kids. They are the most likely to look at leisure opportunities.”
A second group is made up of a younger generation of up and coming Batswana professionals. Their ages average between 25 and 34. They mainly travel in groups by bus and come to spend their hard-earned cash on clothing and luxury items.
“It is the express ambition of South African Tourism to grow arrivals, especially leisure traveler arrivals to South Africa from these two groups,” said Mathe. “South Africa is ideally placed to cater for the needs of leisure travelers, and to deliver superbly diverse, value for money holiday experiences.”
“We have partnered with South African hospitality giants such Southern Sun, Sun International, Protea Hotels, City Lodge, Legacy Hotels, African Link, Legend Tours and Intercape for these workshops with the aim of engaging Botswana travel trade, helping them sell our destination effectively and giving the Botswana travelers the opportunity to experience our amazing destination,” concluded Mathe.