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Africa’s Eden recently hosted a successful regional roadshow in Maun which brought together the tourism industry and suppliers of goods and services from the region for a three-day engagement that also provided an opportunity for stakeholder engagement in a workshop that preceded the business for tourism expos.
The three-day event was held at Sedia hotel where various companies, which supply goods and services brought their wares and had meetings with the industry to forge business agreements.
Africa’s Eden is a regional private ecotourism membership supported organisation based in Botswana representing Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The three-year-old, 400 -member organisation brings together the private sector and market the destination as a region, and not a single country.
“Most tourists are based on travelling between multi countries. Very few of our tourists visit one country, so why should we market just individual destinations,” Africa’s Eden Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Jillian Blackbeard quipped.
Blackbeard revealed that for the first time this year, the organisation has opened up to the suppliers of goods and services to the tourism sector to be their members.
“You will know very well that our local suppliers have a very difficult time reaching the tourism industry. There is a lot of controversy about people buying outside the region and not working with local suppliers,” she said.
She revealed that the challenge has always been that there is no platform for the two sides to meet. She said the event was meant to bridge the gap by bring the business for tourism and buyers in one place to meet and interact and make business deals.
“This year we have about 27 suppliers of goods and services, ranging from banking, financial, lodge building, architecture, catering. More than 49 companies from Maun, who are buyers came through,” Blackbeard noted.
On the first day, the Hospitality and tourism association of Botswana (HATAB) partnered with Africa’s Eden in hosting a stakeholder workshop that attracted local authorities, the private sector and the tourism industry focussing on how best to promote and grow the tourism sector.
This was followed by the regional roadshow where exhibitors from Zimbabwe, Zambia and Namibia meeting tour operators or travel agents based in Maun for them to appreciate the product offering in those areas.
Meanwhile HATAB communications manager Tebogo Ramakgathi said after the roadshow that workshop also called for collaboration and partnership efforts on how the industry can thrive.
“We discussed a lot as stakeholders on how best we can work together to enhance and promote tourism to allow more people to visit Botswana. We touched base on issues of security, regulatory reforms and connectivity,” she revealed.
She said they also had a specific focus on the department of wildlife and national parks (DWNP) with particular interest on the review of management plans that already in place.
The consensus on that there is need for effective collaboration and partnerships, with concerns that PPP should be coming in place and consultation on decisions that affect the industry.
Ramakgathi further highlighted that the tourism for business expos gave Africa’s Eden suppliers and buyers an opportunity to interact, yielding successful business deals.
“As HATAB, we were able to meet new members, and we commend Africa’s Eden for a successful event which opened doors equally for us to see how we can partner with other Africa’s Eden members,” she said.
African’s Eden rotates these event in all its four member countries every year – in chosen areas.