Pioneering Eco-Tourism

Part Two – Starting Ecotourism in Botswana


In the first part we defined ecotourism using Findhorn in Scotland as an example with whom we can relate and even twin with.  In that context a few examples of the many twinning arrangements that exist between African towns and cities were cited, highlighting the diverse range of partnerships aimed at promoting cooperation and collaboration across continents.


In part two we will suggest one village that could develop ecotourism and be twined with Findhorn and also the general economics of ecotourism.  One village in Botswana that could be a candidate for twinning based on the criteria of being small-scale, accessible, and of interest to tourism is the village of Ghanzi. For our international readers and even future friends in Findhorn, Ghanzi is located in the western part of Botswana and serves as the administrative centre of the Ghanzi District. Here’s why Ghanzi could be a potential candidate. Ghanzi is a relatively small village with a population of around 12,000 people. Its smaller size allows for more focused and manageable twinning initiatives, making it easier to engage the local community and implement sustainable development projects. Ghanzi is situated along the Trans-Kalahari Highway, which is a major route connecting Botswana with neighboring countries such as Namibia and South Africa. This accessibility makes it easier for visitors and potential partners to reach the village, facilitating tourism and twinning activities. Ghanzi is known for its rich cultural heritage and proximity to wildlife reserves. The village is home to the San people, one of the oldest indigenous communities in Africa, offering opportunities for cultural exchanges and learning about traditional lifestyles and practices. Additionally, nearby wildlife reserves like the Central Kalahari Game Reserve provide a chance to experience Botswana’s diverse flora and fauna. Ghanzi has the potential to develop community-based tourism initiatives, including cultural tours, traditional craft workshops, deep spirituality as well as eco-friendly accommodation made with local and renewable materials.


Authentic experiences

By focusing on sustainable tourism practices, Ghanzi can offer visitors authentic experiences while generating income for the local community and supporting conservation efforts. Through twinning arrangements, Ghanzi could benefit from knowledge sharing, capacity building, and support in areas such as sustainable agriculture, renewable energy, and entrepreneurship. This would empower the local community to enhance their livelihoods, promote economic development while preserving and indeed enhancing their cultural heritage. It is important to conduct further research and engage with the local community and authorities in Ghanzi to assess their interest and willingness to participate in a twinning arrangement.  Collaborative efforts can lead to the development of sustainable tourism initiatives and foster meaningful exchanges between Ghanzi and its potential twinning partner, Findhorn.

Economic impact

It is important to emphasise that ecotourism has the potential to contribute significantly to the economy based on global experiences. While the economic impact can vary depending on factors such as the destination, scale of ecotourism activities, and level of visitor demand, here are some general insights. Ecotourism can generate direct revenue through visitor spending on services, accommodation, food, transportation, and activities. Additionally, it can stimulate indirect economic benefits through the supply chain, such as local suppliers of goods and services, including farmers, artisans, and transportation providers. The revenue generated from ecotourism can contribute to job creation and economic diversification, particularly in rural areas. Ecotourism is labour intensive requiring a range of services and expertise, including guides, naturalists, hospitality staff, and conservation personnel. These employment opportunities can have a positive impact on local communities, providing income and reducing unemployment rates. In some cases, ecotourism can also stimulate new opportunities can create spin-off businesses, such as community-based enterprises as well as small-scale tourism operations. The development of ecotourism can lead to infrastructure improvements, including better systems of transport and communications, energy and water supply, public services such as civic and visitor centres, and recreational facilities. These investments not only enhance the visitor experience but also benefit local communities by improving their access to basic services and utilities. Ecotourism can serve as a financing mechanism for conservation efforts. Revenues generated from ecotourism activities can be channelled into biodiversity conservation programs, habitat restoration, anti-poaching initiatives, and community-based natural resource management. This financial support can contribute to the preservation of ecosystems and wildlife, which in turn enhances the attractiveness of the destination for ecotourism. Ecotourism often emphasizes cultural immersion and interaction with local communities. This can help preserve indigenous cultures, traditional knowledge, and heritage practices. Communities can showcase their cultural assets through handicraft sales, cultural performances, and guided tours, generating income while maintaining their cultural identity. It’s important to note that the economic benefits of ecotourism are highly context-specific and depend on effective planning, community involvement, and sustainable management practices. Furthermore, careful consideration should be given to avoiding negative impacts such as overtourism, environmental degradation, and cultural commodification.

Value of ecotourism

The exact value of ecotourism in dollars is challenging to determine precisely as it varies greatly depending on the destination, the scale of ecotourism activities, and the time period considered. According to the Global Ecotourism Market Report published by Allied Market Research in 2020, the global ecotourism market was valued at around $181.1 billion in 2019. The report projected that the market would reach approximately $333.8 billion by 2027, indicating the expected growth and economic potential of ecotourism. The contribution of ecotourism to a country’s GDP can vary significantly. For example, in Costa Rica, ecotourism accounts for approximately 5% of the country’s GDP, according to the Costa Rican Tourism Board. Similarly, in countries such as Belize and Tanzania, ecotourism plays a crucial role in their economies. Various case studies highlight the economic value of ecotourism in specific destinations. For instance, a study by The Nature Conservancy estimated that ecotourism in Palau generates around $160 million in annual revenue, accounting for approximately 47% of the country’s GDP. Another study conducted in Costa Rica estimated that ecotourism activities in the Ossa Peninsula region contribute around $34 million annually to the local economy. Ecotourism can also have a significant impact on job creation. According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), the tourism sector, including ecotourism, employs around 1 in 10 people globally. This indicates the substantial employment opportunities provided by ecotourism in various destinations worldwide.

Steady growth

Ecotourism has experienced steady growth over the past decade. According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), between 2000 and 2019, international tourist arrivals to ecotourism destinations grew at an annual average rate of 4.4 percent. This indicates a positive trend in the demand for ecotourism experiences worldwide. The advance of the fourth industrial revolution while having negative impacts on classical employment will assuredly generate more leisure time which wise and far thinking economic strategies will wish to tap into. It is fair to say that the growth rate of ecotourism can vary across different regions. For example, Latin America has witnessed substantial growth in ecotourism, with countries like Costa Rica, Ecuador, and Peru becoming popular ecotourism destinations. Africa, particularly countries like Kenya, Tanzania, and South Africa, has also seen significant growth in nature-based tourism. The Allied Market Research report mentioned earlier projected a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.3 percent for the global ecotourism market between 2020 and 2027. This indicates the potential for continued growth and expansion of ecotourism in the coming years that our government needs to recognise. The increasing awareness and demand for sustainable travel practices have also contributed to the growth of ecotourism.


Travelers are seeking more authentic, immersive, and environmentally responsible experiences, which align with the principles of ecotourism. This growing market demand has led to the development of new ecotourism initiatives and destinations globally. Botswana could easily tap into the potential of ecotourism which will create thousands of jobs while reinforcing our beloved village culture. Let’s take those all-important first few steps.