The Toyota Kalahari Botswana 1000km Desert Race has become one of the most popular, successful and biggest annual sporting events in the country. Many regard it as a way of having a weekend away with their families and friends and little do they know that the event in return is of great importance to the whole nation in many ways.
The event plays a major role in the boosting of tourism in the country as well as provides numerous opportunities for small scale entrepreneurs who may, during the event, provide a wide range of services to competitors and spectators.
There is a tourism spin-off in that large numbers of people, who are either competitors or spectators, come to Botswana.
Skean Drummond, Clerk of the Course, added that the event is probably worth in the region of R5 million to R6 million in foreign exchange as it is expected that over the three days the event will draw in excess of 80 000 spectators from Botswana, South Africa neighbouring countries.
Drummond added that because of all these benefits, they work very closely with the Botswana Tourism Board and other government departments besides Toyota.
Keitumetse Setlang, Public Relations Manager of the Botswana Tourism Board, said their main interest in this event is in the appreciation of the socio-economic benefits the race offers the country, and the entertainment provided through Sports tourism.
“Tens of thousands of spectators from Botswana, our neighbouring countries and some from abroad, come through to view the race, spending money in among others, hotels, fuel stations, food outlets and transport, thereby injecting money into the economy,” Setlang said.
She added that the race also provides a good opportunity to diversify tourism in our country.
Further, Setlang said that the Botswana Tourism Board has formed a partnership with the 4 Wheel Drive Club, who are very instrumental in ensuring the race takes place in Botswana, to provide logistical support, in partnership with the various local partners.
She continued to say that they also collaborate with the Police, affected district councils and land boards, Department of Sports and Recreation, and the Botswana National Sports Council, Gaborone Motor Club, Botswana Motor Sports, Somarelang Tikologo, Customs and the Department of Immigrations and Citizenship.
“It is this committee that ensures and provides guidance to the 4 Wheel Drive Club in getting all the necessary permits for the race. The committee also assists a great deal in ensuring information is shared with the local spectators and the public, which may be affected in one way or the other by the race,” she said.