SA envoy calls for special mechanisms for tourism SMMEs

  • Gauteng Tourism invades Gaborone
  • Pandemic-related tourism trends emerge
  • SA signature events have opportunities for Batswana


A sure sign that the tourism industry is regaining its beat back was the invasion of Gaborone by Gauteng Tourism Authority last weekend.
On an international marketing drive to reintroduce Gauteng as a tourism, trade and investment destination to Batswana, the Visit Gauteng in Botswana followed the reopening of borders between the toe countries after travel restrictions were imposed to curb COVID-19.
Said the spokesperson of Gauteng Tourism, Barba Gaoganediwe: “We were operating in this market before COVID-19 and are coming back to reintroduce ourselves. We reignite the tourism sector for the prosperity of the entire region.”
“In 2019 we saw a decrease in personal shoppers, business travellers and other tourist categories while conventions and exhibitions drove the slight increase in Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Events (MICE). Hospitality, good service and good infrastructure are the main highlights for Botswana’s tourists and we are here to reinforce that positioning.”
While the weekend-long event was an opportunity for Gauteng Tourism to reconnect with the travel trade, it also presented an opportunity for Batswana to secure opportunities in the province’s signature events like the iconic Rand Show and the Delicious International Music and Food Festival. One of Batswana’s biggest highlights of visiting South Africa before the pandemic hit was exploring the arts and culture landscape and its neighbour’s business opportunities.
Sihle Dube of the Rand Show was also present: “Following two years of a notable absence due to COVID-19, one of Johannesburg’s proudest and longest-standing traditions is back,” she said. Rand Show 2022 returns to Nasrec in the week of 13 to18 April 2022. The show has now evolved to entertain 21st Century audiences with an eclectic mix of music, shopping, family entertainment and adrenaline-fuelled rides. I can also confirm that there are exhibition opportunities at the show.”
While South Africa’s tourism sector is bouncing back and is ready to host again, local operator Kebalatetse Kebalatetse of Easy Escape Travel also confirmed that they are currently experiencing a burst of bookings spurred partly by the emergence of pandemic-related new tourists trends.
“What is currently happening in Botswana and elsewhere is that people are looking for experiences with family and friends,” he said. “COVID-19 made us appreciate family more and we want to tag along with everyone to COVID-compliant spaces that will give them a good time together.”
Also speaking at Visit Gauteng in Botswana, the South African High Commissioner to Botswana, TP Shope-Soumah, highlighted that in May 2020 the United Nations World Tourism Organisation anticipated a 58% to 78 % decline in tourist arrivals and SMMEs were more impacted.
Shope-Soumah cited a survey conducted by the Botswana Enterprise Regulatory Authority covering 332 SMMEs that shows that the tourism sector had suffered a 72 % revenue loss by May 2020. “These SMMEs working capital is largely financed through pre-paid bookings” she said. “Consequently, as clients cancelled their bookings due to COVID-19, they could not afford refunds.”
“This initiative that we are lunching is important for the tourism industries of Botswana, South Africa and the region because it is necessary to put in place mechanism that will enable tourism SMMEs to bounce back.”