Botswana’s fledgling tourism market is in the early stages of development, with only limited progress made in the hotel sector, hampered by a limited transport network. With arrivals set to increase steadily over the forecast period, tourism analysts expect to see more international developers take note of the potential offered by this untouched eco-tourism destination. The Botswana tourism report examines a range of indicators in this emerging tourism market in the heart of Sub-Saharan Africa.
Inbound travel to Botswana has been increasing steadily. The country has worked hard to raise its global profile, and its recent inclusion on the UNESCO World Heritage List for the Okavango Delta (the 1000th World Heritage Site) will no doubt help to further raise awareness of Botswana’s myriad attractions.
“Arrivals are expected to reach just under 3.7mn in 2015, an increase of over 5percent on the 2014 arrivals figure. Similar growth throughout the remainder of the forecast period means analysts expect arrivals to reach 4.47mn in 2019 – more than double the country’s population,” reads the well detailed report. Last year, statistics from Botswana Tourism indicated that only 10 percent of the domestic tourism revenue is retained locally whilst the rest is claimed by foreign countries.??The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) report on the economic impact of tourism in Botswana in 2014 also indicated that the direct contribution of travel and tourism to GDP was P5, 486.6 million. It added that the investment should rise by 8.4 percent in 2014, and 4.5 percent per annum over the next ten years to P3, 111.6 million in 2024.
Botswana’s outbound travel market is much smaller, less than a third of the size of inbound travel in 2015. Although domestic economic growth and an expanding middle class mean investment analysts expect to see outbound travel expand throughout the forecast period, overall growth potential is relatively limited due to Botswana’s small population size and widespread economic inequality. “By 2019, therefore, we expect outbound travel to reach 928,710, or around 0.44 departures per 1000 of the population.”
A key limitation to the 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 neighbors 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.