Global analyst group says Batswana prefer to travel outside their own country where pricing is too prohibitive
Botswana tourism industry will struggle to recover from the devastating impact of the Coronavirus because its wildlife-based tourism marketing strategy is focused on the international market while efforts to promote domestic tourism have failed because the tourism products are too expensive for locals, a global business analyst group has concluded.
In a new report entitled “Botswana Tourism Industry Report 2021,” ResearchAndMarkets.com says the lockdown and ban on international travel since the pandemic emerged early in 2019 have created numerous challenges which threaten the survival of the tourism sector.
“Botswana has maintained strict Coronavirus regulations for the movement of tourists, resulting in operational and financial challenges for the tourism industry,” says the report. “Tourism marketing has traditionally been focused on international tourists, but domestic marketing has been explored since the pandemic. The country’s tourism products are largely wildlife-based and highly priced, leaving many citizens with little option but to travel outside the country.”
Botswana’s efforts to revive the tourism industry post-COVID-19 lockdown are also seen as likely to be dented by negative publicity arising from international concerns over environmental problems blamed on tourism activities in the wildlife-rich north.
“Environmental concerns have been raised in the northern part of Botswana, particularly including noise, land, (and) water and air pollution. Over the years, there has been an increase in the number of vehicles, including mobile safaris, private cars and suppliers of goods,” the report notes.
However, the group said Botswana has also gained positive benefits from the pandemic, including increased awareness, the promotion of eco-tourism and sustainable tourism ethics and practice. The analysis noted that some flagship tour destinations in the Okavango Delta and Kalahari Desert are now offering environmentally-friendly tour packages.
The government wants to grow the tourism industry to help diversify the economy away from dependence on mineral commodity exports. In 2019, tourism employed 8.9% of the national workforce and contributed 13.1% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Some of the local tour operators highlighted in the report are Chobe Holdings, Cresta Marakanelo, Mosu Safari Tours, Wilderness Holdings, Shifting Sands Services, Savuti-Linyanti Khwai Group of Camps, Peermont Global Botswana, Ngamiland Explorations and Gondwana Travel and Tours.