More than five years after the recession began, the lingering impact continues to affect tour operators in the North West region.
The tourism sector is one of the major contributors to the country’s economy.
The recession has hit the companies hard with a majority of companies making less profit than they used to make before the recession.
Interaction with some of the tour operators in the area has revealed that across the board tour companies have reported a strong resurgence in bookings. What has turned out to be more worrisome is that the season commenced end of March but business is very low.
Many companies have revealed that they are unable to charge the prices they need to make healthy profit margins in a bid to retain the few customers they have.
In an interview, the Managing Director for Umpengu Tours in Kasane, Keitumetse Chika, said they still feel the pinch of the recession after five years as business is failing to thrive. “Customers make bookings but do not confirm their bookings,” said Chika.
Sharing the same sentiments, Brownie Ditshwane, the Managing Director at Nsundano Tours in Kasane, said effects of the recession are so bad on the business such that they are forced to slash their prices.
“To keep the few customers we get and to remain in business, we have to slash our prices,” said Ditshwane. He added that due to the surge of foreign tourists, tour operators have pinned their hopes on the upcoming United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) conference in Zimbabwe.
Monica Kgaile, the Managing Director at Janala Tours, said the largest source market for tourist to Botswana is America and Europe and these people are feeling the pinch.
“ A majority of them have largely stopped coming and some of them are now opting for destinations closer to Europe, like Kenya and Tanzania,” she said.
Kgaile added that, as a result, they are left with no business.