Unprecedented Botswana’s Attendance Of Indaba

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The unprecedented number of tour operators facilitated by Botswana Tourism Organisation (BTO) together with those that facilitated their own participation at the Africa’s Travel Indaba, held in Durban last week has been described as a bold statement of Botswana’s journey onto the global stage, ensuring its vibrant tourism tapestry captivates the world’s attention, the organisation said.

BTO facilitated 45 operators, the biggest number the organisation has ever taken to Indaba or to any travel show around the world for that matter, and according to BTO acting Chief Executive Officer – Keitumetse Setlang, this was not by default. The 45 operators represented a diverse array of travel and tourism product offerings which represented the country’s portfolio.

According to Setlang, who led the industry from the front, the Pan African trade show was the biggest in the continent, and therefore a must attend for any destination that seeks to seriously market itself, hence destination Botswana’s massive attendance.

Among the 45 operators facilitated by BTO – Setlang highlighted that the national airliner – Air Botswana was also in attendance, which underscored the importance of air transport as an enabler of travel. Community Trusts, which are currently the major custodian of the majority of land (concessions) which are used for tourism activities were also in attendance. This was to allow them an opportunity appreciate  the  marketing and the sales of packages on global platforms like the Indaba.

Another new and welcome development was the participation of new youth owned entities. Setlang said this was an indication that the youth were slowly getting into the tourism value chain. 

“It is encouraging that the young entrants do not stagnate at the bottom, but also take the responsibility to grow,” said.

The Hospitality and Tourism Association of Botswana (HATAB) Chief Executive Officer Lilly Korong noted the growth of both the Indaba and the level of engagement as the industry thrust fast towards recovery and post 2019 numbers. She acknowledged the show was a good one in terms of attendance, engagements – and going back implementation remains key.

Rakorong said while some operators were attending for the first time, alongside those that are repeats, they hope for a meaningful translation of the back to back engagements into business and growth.

“As HATAB, we have also been engaging with out counterparts from the different countries to see how to strengthen regional collaboration to facilitate operators and travellers into our regions,” she said.

National airline Air Botswana General Manager, Lulu Rasebotsa underscored the importance of air travel as an enabler of tourism. Botswana’s location provides an opportunity where it can be a bub for the movement of people and goods – thereby facilitating both travel and trade, a space for air transport.

“We have embarked on a refleeting exercise, which will allow us to open up new routes and reclaim those that we used to fly. I think it is our dream not to only connect Sub Saharan Africa, but also connect the rest of the continent,” she said.

Rasebotsa further highlighted that intra travel within the continent is not where it should be, with the prices exorbitantly high, and believes engages with other national airlines and government to government engagements, these may be addressed.

There is a general consensus that there are opportunities that Botswana present on an international platform like Indaba, and great potential that the country can take to its advantage to growth the economy and in the process create employment for its people.  

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