The just-ended fourth annual Botswana Tourism Organisation (BTO) Travel and Tourism Expo attracted 139 international and 92 local operators. BTO Acting Chief Executive Officer Zibanani Hubona said the event has grown tremendously over the years. “The growth of this event has been phenomenal. The countries that have been part of this since the inception are still participating which shows that the event is benefiting them and their growth,” he said. He said there is evidence that the Travel Expo offers new opportunities. He believes that local tour operators will thereafter attract more business, the same way the international tour operators and the international media does.
The Minister of Environment, Natural Resources, Conservation and Tourism Tshekedi Khama said that there was every reason for every tour operator to come Botswana and know about the market because Botswana is a rare opportunity that did not just happen but was made. He said Government of Botswana made a decision to prioritise conservation and preservation. “Many countries and even the European Union (EU) refused to put the elephants in appendix I and even the European Union, but that does not concern us. We will continue with the hunting ban and we will continue to make Botswana a greener pastures for animals; that is why they are just migrating here because like human beings they also want a place where they are protected and taken care of,” he said. Khama said the only challenge that they face is the fact that they are now recognised as a middle income country, and hence get reduced assistance from donors.
He said they will continue to do everything that they can to prove that tourism is very sustainable and that Botswana which has always been then world’s best kept secret is appreciated by everyone. “Botswana is on a steadfast course of eco-tourism, tourism, climate change and sustainability, and climate change is also real and needs everyone to be responsible,” he said. Savuti, Khwai and Linyanti Marketing Executive Rachel Mbulawa said the Expo has proven to be one of the best tourism events that they always look up to because they are able to network and also sell their products to international tour operators. “We have been taking part in this Expo every year, and that is because we get an overwhelming response from it. From the workshops that BTO holds we are able to learn about how best we can penetrate the international markets and also make our service offerings easier and visible,” she said.