Botswana: Tour Operators Hope to Recover After COVID-19

Maun — Some tour operators are hopeful that they will recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic if they can revisit their marketing strategies.

One such operator is Mr Gabofele Mokgwathi who owns Boro Okavango River Safari which specialises in mobile safaris.

He is of the view that the majority of tour operators marketing strategies focused more on international tourists. He added that time had come for them to align their tourism strategy from international to domestic.

He shared his views in an interview after the Okavango Kopano Mokoro Community Trust (OKMCT) launched a speed boat cruise initiative.

He hailed the trust for introducing the initiative, saying it was the way to go as far as tourism diversification was concerned.

The tourism sector, he said, was hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, and appreciated that many tour operators were thinking outside the box.

Mr Mokgwathi, who is in a joint venture with OKMCT, said he wished government and other stakeholders could come on board and assist operators with marketing in order to promote local tourism.

He said if they could attract locals in large numbers, they could recover from the effects of the pandemic and run sustainable tourism.

"All we want is high volume and low value because we cannot run business if it is not sustainable, and we can only manage if there is a stream of income," he added.

He said it was time tourism players took the industry to locals by coming up with affordable packages.

On the other hand, he urged Batswana to support the industry in order for it to thrive.

Batswana, he said, should appreciate that their country was blessed with adventurous places such as the Tsodilo World Heritage Site, Okavango Delta World Heritage and Moremi Game Reserve among others.

He said they should change their mindset and view travelling as a benefit, as it provided lasting happiness through stories and memories.

Mr Mokgwathi cited the delta, saying it had a lot to offer in tourism activities.

He described the Okavango Delta as one of the world's largest inland delta and one of the world's premier wilderness areas.

The delta is known for its wildlife, with large populations of mammals and birds, particularly in the breeding season.

Besides wildlife and plant species, he said the delta had historical and cultural sites as there were remains of old buildings and artefacts.

He cited a historical area named 'dikhuti tsa ditotwane,' which translates in English as 'a place of ghosts' where elderly people used to stay, saying the site was worth visiting as one could experience the sounds of ghosts.

Mr Mokgwathi, who is familiar with the history of the delta, also explained that the delta supported a large concentration of birds which fly as far as Europe and back to the delta.

He said Batswana could also learn and experience other people's lifestyles, citing the mokoro excursion which was popular at NG32 concession.

The mekoro excursion, he said, was a popular activity in the delta, adding that it was also the most peaceful experience. He added that mekoro polers were highly skilled and knowledgeable about their environment.

"One can see that the delta is a beautiful and prestigious resource, but it is unfortunate as the locals are not coming forth to explore the area to appreciate it because they believe that adventure is expensive.

This is the opportunity for them to make travelling part of their lives and support local tourism as failure to do so would negatively affect our efforts to promote tourism," he added.

<i>Source : BOPA</i>

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