BTO to privatize Heart of the City Carnival

Organization reduces events from 34 to 10 or 14 annually


As part of their new strategy, Botswana Tourism Organization (BTO) recently revealed that they will create, incubate and hive off events to the private sector. The organization’s annual event dubbed, Heart of the city Carnival which is hosted at the end of the year to usher in the Christmas season is said to be a low hanging fruit for private sector uptake, according to BTO’s Chief Executive Officer, Myra Sekgororoane.

“Events are identified as a growth opportunity as they influence local travel, add recreation and entertainment. They diversify our product. Heart of the City Carnival event privatization will be advertised soon. Race For Rhinos will not be carried out by BTO this year but we hope for private sector uptake in the coming year,” she said.

Sekgororoane’s statement cemented the minister of Environment, Natural Resources, Conservation and Tourism, Kitso Mokaila’s remarks earlier this year that BTO activities competing with those in the private sector will be removed. “I wish to point out that BTO is here to facilitate the tourism industry and not compete with it. There has definitely been confusion in the past pertaining to its role, resulting in BTO hosting events that competed with the private sector,” Mokaila said.

The first installment of the Heart of the City Carnival was staged last year around the Main Mall. The carnival was aimed at reviving and celebrating the history of the Main Mall as well as showcasing the diverse cultures of the people of Botswana. It featured a variety of culinary offerings, celebrity chef demonstrations, and a carnival parade of different types of cultures and dances, as well as local and international music artists. This publication sent out a questionnaire to BTO that sought to understand the details of the privatization process and if the opportunities will be localised to no avail.

Furthermore, the calendar events BTO will stage are the Khawa Dune Challenge, Toyota Desert Race and Makgadikgadi Epic this year. The organisation said a review of events for optimal resource utilization was necessary as they reduced events from 34 to 10 or 14 events annually. The Botswana Travel and Tourism Expo Kasane (BTTE) Africa, INDABA (Durban), We are Africa (Cape Town), Meetings Africa (Johannesburg), World Travel Market (Cape Town), Namibia Tourism Expo, ILTM (Singapore), International Travel Expo (Hong Kong), Japan Travel Agents Fair (Japan), TopResa (Paris), FITUR (Spain) World Travel Market(London ), ITB Germany are amoung the events that have been retained for the 2019/2020 Financial Year based on the market value and uptake by local industry.

“There is a need to reposition the country for optimum value derivation. We are researching some of the events we were participating in so as to understand the markets. A blanket approach to promotions and brand position is expensive and events will be added back after careful analysis of each market,” Sekgororoane added.