Makgadikgadi Epic returns

Botswana Tourism Organisation (BTO) in partnership with Parachute Association of Botswana (PAB) & Nata Conservation Trust will host the second annual Makgadikgadi Epic from the 2nd to the 4th of October 2015. The Makgadikgadi Epic, predominantly a skydiving event will offer the general public and skydivers three days of epic skydiving and many more fun activities near one of the largest salt pans in the world, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans. According to the CEO of BTO, Brian Dithebe, the first installment of the event was a huge success and there are even more activities that revelers can look forward to at this year’s event.

“The Makgadikgadi epic event does not only cater for skydiving enthusiasts but it also diversifies the tourism product as it showcases tourist destinations in Botswana. The first event was a huge success and we expect a significant growth this year because we have moved the event from August to a long holiday to allow people to travel and we expect a huge turn up,” he said, adding that this year’s event will feature tandem jumps, fun quad bikes, game drives. The latest addition, according to Dithebe, is the Arts and Crafts Expo, hot air balloon rides and the event promises to be an experience of a lifetime,” he said.

For his part, Garai Makaya of Skydive Botswana said at this year’s event there will be more skydivers as compared to the past year. Among the skydivers to feature at the event is the highly accomplished, multi world champion, Sports Emmy Award-winning and pioneering skydiver, Olav Zipser.

“Because of last year’s fast winds we had about 428 skydivers but because this year’s dates have been moved to a less windy month, we plan to have a total of about 1050 skydivers. He spearheaded the free fly revolution and has logged more than 22 750 skydives. We are also expecting skydiving enthusiasts from other countries because they always like to do the sport in a new environment and others are looking to upgrade their licenses because for the first time we will have night jumps, an opportunity that most skydivers do not get in their home countries,” he said.

Dithebe added that as BTO they conducted a baseline data survey against which the economic impact of future Makgadikgadi Epic events can be measured. According to the study, an estimated total of 2000 attended last year’s event, of the 2000 spectators, 117 were interviewed and the majority (19.2%)came from Francistown followed by Nata at 18.6%. Gaborone trailed behind with 12.4% a clear sign of progress in terms of the organizational efforts to roll out the sports tourism product over a wide geographical area to promote domestic travel. Natives from other areas constituted 6.2% and males had a slight edge over females.
Last year, a total of P62, 240 was generated from tandem jumps, boat drive, quad fun ride, gate takings, game drive, and a share of the campsite proceeds was disbursed to the community trust to fund the local community development projects. Total revenue sales for all the businesses stood at over P2 million during the weekend of the epic. Dithebe further urged Batswana to take up the showers business, as there were no such services locally and always have to source them outside the country. He however said they have engaged local companies to provide public toilets and cleaning at the main event.