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Batswana’s air travel reluctance could harm tourism prospects

DURBAN, South Africa, August 2019 – Botswana’s tourism industry continues to be a pie in the sky for its natives as more inbound tourists largely come from western markets especially celebrities and a select few well-heeled individuals who throng the country’s flora and fauna by flying straight into various safari destinations of Ngamiland such as the Okavango Delta. 

Among those that have visited the country include Oprah Winfrey, Prince Harry, Sami Khedira, Steve Harvey and Ciara just to name a few. A beacon of hope for wildlife management and conservation with over 75% of Africa’s elephant population, Botswana receives slightly over 2 million inbound tourists yearly.

After a long game drive, guides from Wilderness Safari park for a safari experience, after checking for any uninvited guests, and before clients could step out of the van. Usually they pick a spot with relevant wildlife. Seen here are hippos in a pond while tourists await a refreshing sundowner.

However, according to tourism experts there is a possibility of a dry spell in future for these airlines coming into Botswana except for private chartered flights largely because airlines need a two-way route to be operational. 

Speaking at the African Tourism Leadership Program in Durban, Linda Balme, a Senior Commercial Manager at Travelstart said flying in Africa continues to be expensive for intra-African destinations hence a decline of airlines within the region. 

“Quite frankly it remains expensive to fly intra-Africa simply because we haven’t really segmented the market. If countries like Botswana coherently relate to airlines that fly into the country to understand their peak and low seasons respectively and then negotiate subsidies for locals to travel abroad to keep those airlines operative, it will keep business sense.

Partnerships with banks in particular can be reached to say for instance Botswana opt to lose 1/3 of revenue during low season and then gain 2/3 when season yields up. The bottom line is to keep the airlines going operational,” she concluded. 

Stella Fubura-Obinwa, Director International Operations, Department of Tourism and Commerce in Dubai

Meanwhile Stella Fubura-Obinwa, Director International Operations, Department of Tourism and Commerce in Dubai who has over 15 years in airline business expressed the same sentiments and further said most Africans are not flying because of pricey air tickets despite more percentages of the fares not going to the airline.

“The model in Africa constitutes that more money goes to the government’s taxes so countries need to invest and make a long term commitment to have airlines operational. It doesn’t make business essence to fly an empty aeroplane because eventually they cancel routes so for tourists to keep connecting is harsh thus they end up opting for where they can just fly direct,” she informed.

On a different spin to the case, Alan Renaud, the Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Civil Aviation, Ports and Marine in Seychelles said government has to segment their routes with the national airline concentrating on local routes at cheaper rates and leave international airlines to do international routes.

The event hosted thirty (30) world-renowned global industry experts, speakers, business leaders, ministers, policy makers, and over three hundred (300) delegates from over thirty (30) countries.

An imported car seen in Kasane this week.

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Moagi Madisa

"Although journalism is the activity of gathering, assessing, creating, and presenting news and information and also the product of these activities; for me its science - our sorroundings"

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BOTSWANAUNPLUGGED is an exclusive online news and lifestyle magazine created for upwardly mobile citizens with distinguished tastes. Based in Gaborone, Botswana; UNPLUGGED is a quintessential online news and lifestyle medium (platform) which strives to speak to the soul of the country’s upscale lifestyle by setting its sights on the passion that permeates our region.

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