The modern-day traveller wants diversity – Kereng


As the travel and tourism industry works its way towards rebuilding an industry that was deeply wounded by the COVID-19 pandemic, findings have pointed to a need to diversify the country’s tourism offering.

Speaking at the just-ended HATAB Annual Conference at Travel Lodge in Kasane, the Minister of Tourism, Philda Kereng, revealed that the tourist that emerged from COVID-19 wants to experience Botswana beyond game drives and boat cruises.

“The hard lockdowns caused the psycho-social impact on people who now want to have experiences that can heal them,” she said. “They want to do activities that can restore their emotions and give them life again.”

“The pandemic has made us realise that we can create destinations around the country through thriving cities incorporating culture, sports, arts and agri-tourism. As part of our recovery plan, we need to come up with programmes that are innovative and expand our product so that our tourists can stay longer and use more money in Botswana.”

It emerged that one of the unexplored diversification options in Botswana is cultural tourism, which is a type of tourism activity in which the tourist’s essential motivation is to discover, learn, experience and consume the cultural attractions in a tourism destination.
These attractions can relate to a set of spiritual and emotional features of a society that encompasses arts and architecture, historical and cultural heritage, culinary heritage, literature, music, creative industries and the living cultures with their lifestyles, value systems, beliefs and traditions.

“Tourists now want to learn to milk a cow and our people’s way of life,” Minister Kereng said. “Are we tapping into this opportunity? We need to embark on this path less travelled so we are ready for this type of explorer.”

She added that in the process of rebuilding the industry, Botswana is also putting sustainability at the forefront of its tourism activities by prioritising experiences suitable for the environment and in the process striking a balance between preservation and generating sustainable income. “Sustainable tourism requires us to be resilient on protecting the environment and cushioning our bio-diversity against the hardships and climate change,” she noted.

“For forty years we built this industry and about three years towards the end of that decade, everything crashed and today we are rebuilding. What we are building should be better than what we built before. The rebuilt house is always better because there are lessons learned from past experiences.”