As the level of in-country tourism grows, tour operators say the resort towns of Maun and Kasane are emerging as destinations of choice for the festive season
For some people, lockdowns have been challenging because being confined to homes led to loneliness and isolation. In certain cases, some lost their jobs. The experience just underlined the importance of going out into the wild to interact with nature.
Thankfully, because restrictions have begun to ease in Botswana, inspiring holidays have become necessary and many youths are going on safari, even just to take the best shots for Instagram. In a group of 10 people, nine said they would travel more than ever before when asked what they would do post-lockdown. And with the festive season almost here, revitalizing holidays are a chance to meet family and friends and for making real connections with nature.
“The tourism industry has rapidly grown over the years, making entry into the market easier and in that way benefiting more Batswana,” says Kobamelo Tlagae of leading tour operator, Dwayne Travel & Tours.
While the hospitality landscape has changed due to COVID-19, demand for local travel is growing. Tlagae says the travel and hospitality sector is responding with innovative packages that offer a wide array of choices at affordable prices. Predictably, the world-famous resort towns of Maun and Kasane are the most popular destinations for scenic views of wildlife in the unspoiled terrain of the Okavango and Chobe.
At Dwayne Travel & Tours, the Maun package includes boat cruises in the Thamalakane River, game drives at Moremi Game Reserve and scenic flights over the Okavango Delta. “Marketability for the Maun package has been impressive such that we were fully booked for Independence holidays and are doing well for the festive season,” says Tlagae.
Travel and nature “are very important” because people can learn to engage across cultures, he adds. “Few things are more daunting than walking into a room full of people you’ve never met before,” he says. “Travel breaks barriers and can lead to and strategic relationships.”
The benefits of festive family travel are numerous. They can give all members of the family time to regain balance, reconnect and restore equilibrium.
But while the future looks fairly bright for local tourism, the impact of COVID-19 cannot be ignored because the sector experienced a rapid and sharp drop in demand and jobs were lost. The depth and breadth of the pandemic is likely to have a lasting effect on international travel due to the potential of long-term changes in behaviour as people become more cautious about travelling across borders.
Even so, tour operators and travel agents like Dwayne Travel & Tours are not daunted because their innovative approach has so far proved reliable and the signs are good for the festive season.
But while the coming festive season is likely to be busier than usual for local tourism, after an initial spending spree for Christmas shopping, malls and restaurants in urban areas are likely to face lengthy periods of subdued demand. But this is a story for another day because right now nature beckons!