According to Eileen Van Der Est, the woman at the helm of Business Botswana -North, the 2018 Northern Trade Fair will be unique, fun filled and exhilarating to both exhibitors and the community. The fair, billed for May 23rd-27th, will run under the theme “Tourism: Botswana’s hope amidst dwindling mining fortunes’’.
This in recognition of the need to diversify the economy away from mining, which is declining due to falling commodity prices and mines reaching the end of their lifespan. Botswana is aggressively seeking options to diversify the economy from heavy reliance on minerals, as it has done for over five decades.
Botswana Tourism Organisation (BTO) has already kickstarted the diversification drive around Francistown, with the launch of the Shashe dam tourism development project. The strategy is to develop dams into tourist attractions by taking advantage of their aesthetic value and natural habitat found in their surroundings.
Business Botswana will hold a ‘’Dinner Dialogue” to discuss ways in which opportunities in the tourism sector can be exploited as alternative revenue sources. BTO and other stakeholders will lead the conversation. The 2018 northern trade fair will also include a golf tournament, a cycle challenge and a five aside football tournament for the exhibitors. The fair will also host a fashion show.
The two halls at the exhibitiojn centre have already ben fully booked, with a good turnout of exhibitors anticipated. Only space for stalls are left in the marque tent and the open space. In previous years the trade fair was able to attract exhibitors from beyond across the borders and Ms Eileen Van der Est confirmed that Business Botswana is currently in negotiations with various international exhibitors.
Asked about the economic benefits of the show, Van Der Est touched said the tourism sector has an opportunity to fill the economic void created by the struggling mining industry. She said tourism has the potential to become a major player in generating income for the country as well as creating employment, pointing to sports tourism as one good example of diversifying the economy of Francistown. The addition of activities such as the golf tournament, the five a side soccer competition, horse riding and the bicycle race to the fair, are all an intrinsic enforcement of promoting the concept of sports tourism, which if promoted can become a major income earner especially with the newly built stadium in Francistown, which will a play pivotal role in achieving the objective.