Ethiopian Airlines In Maun

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Recently, we learnt that Ethiopian Airlines will launch service between Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) and Maun (Botswana) starting from June 10, 2024. The Airline will fly into and out of Maun three times a week. Maun will be Ethiopian’s second destination in Botswana after Gaborone which the Airline has been serving since 2016.

The Maun route provides a more accessible gateway to the popular Okavango Delta, a UNESCO’s 1000th World Heritage Site known for its incredible biodiversity and expansive inland waterways. The Maun route which also has a stop in Luanda (Angola) will provide a convenient and seamless connectivity for travellers from Ethiopia, other parts of Africa and the world. This route will thus provide international tourist visitors from all over the world access to lovers of nature and the Okavango Delta.

The introduction of Ethiopian Airlines into Maun is an exciting development in our tourism industry. There is no doubt that it will facilitate a tourist movement between Maun/Okavango Delta with the outside world. This is particularly so when considering that many tourists may choose to avoid a transit through OR Tambo International Airport on an account of congestion and at times theft of their items at this airport.

Ethiopian Airlines fly to most destinations of the world and continents notably, America, Europe, Asia, and Australia where tourists visiting the Okavango Delta mostly originate. Ethiopian Airlines is one of the successful airlines in Africa if not the world. Its route from Gaborone has a stop at Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe.

I am of the view that the Ethiopian Airlines management made an informed decision about the tourists’ calibre which mostly visit Botswana’s Okavango Delta even Zimbabwe’s Victoria Falls. While the move will make air transportation movement between Botswana’s Okavango Delta easier and accessibly, the airline will reap a good tourism revenue.

I can only hope that one day, Air Botswana will fly into Europe, America, Asia and Australia/New Zealand where tourists that visit the Okavango Delta originate. Tourism revenue is an international tourism destination such as the Okavango Delta mostly accrue to companies which own accommodation facilities and the air transportation. Two decades ago, I wrote this article: Mbaiwa, J.E. (2005). Enclave Tourism and its Socio-economic Impacts in the Okavango Delta, Botswana. Tourism Management, 26(2): 157-172.

This article published in the journal of Tourism Management remains the most popular and widely read article I ever wrote with 659 citations in Google Scholar, 391 citations in Research Gate and 207 citations in Web of Science. In this article, the message was that there are two main sectors which a country like Botswana which has the Okavango Delta as a tourism destination should target if it wants to maximise tourism revenue and minimise revenue leakages.

These two sectors are: accommodation and air transportation. I argued that Botswana should ensure that accommodation facilities in the Okavango Delta should predominately be owned by local companies to retain maximum revenue in the country. I equally made recommendations that Botswana should have Air Botswana, or a Botswana based airline fly to countries of tourist origins of Europe, America, Australia/New Zealand, and Asia. This is still my story even after 20 years. I am still recommending that if Botswana wants to retain tourism revenue in the country and avoid revenue leakages, the accommodation sector in the Okavango Delta and airline industry should be led by locals or Botswana based companies.

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