Botswana: Okavango Businesses Struggle

Maun — Some business entities in the Okavango Sub-district are still struggling from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic despite efforts by government to allow direct chartered international flights to Ngamiland and Chobe.

Most tourism businesses such as hotels and lodges were hopeful that the move would facilitate better profits, but that was not the case as some still decried lack of business

Kamore Guest Inn located in the centre of Gumare is one such facility that has not yet benefited despite efforts by government to come up with strategies to ensure recovery of several economic sectors.

The facility comprises of spacious rooms which all feature en-suite bathrooms with showers and Wi-Fi Internet access among others.

One of the senior employees, Ms Ceciliah Kiritu confirmed that they were still feeling the effect of the pandemic as business was still low.

She said they were hopeful that things would change for the better during the festive season but that was not the case. "We experienced a thirsty festive season as there was no business at all," she said.

Gumare is an ideal place for travellers looking to explore the famous Okavango Delta and Tsodilo Hills which are world heritage sites.

Atoma Lodge manager at Shakawe, Ms Gaotlhobogwe Samayahe concurred that business was low, noting that the last time they received clients was on 23rd December.

She stated that they pinned their hopes on the festive period to revive their businesses, but that people had reduced movement due to the pandemic.

Shakawe is also a gate way to some of the best tourism destinations and business owners hoped that the festive season would bring business as many were travelling but that was not the case.

Atoma Lodge has opened another branch in Gumare and Ms Samayahe stated that both facilities were experiencing the same problem despite their efforts to advertise through social media.

Ms Kamogelo Karwero of Semo Guest House still in Gumare said business was going on at a snail pace since the pandemic.

For the whole festive holidays, she said there were no bookings, adding that they started receiving bookings on January 10 for a day.

She said they were running at a loss as they spent weeks without bookings, adding that at times they received bookings twice a week.

Ms Karwero further noted that it was unfortunate as there had been reports that cases of COVID-19 were increasing in Ngamiland and wondered if they would come back to full business.

BOPA

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