Botswana’s tourism industry set to grow

  • Economy expected to record over P14bn in tourism revenues in 2018


 According to Fitch Group research company, Business Monitor International (BMI), Botswana’s tourism sector is expected to continue to record significant growth in tourist arrivals and revenues this year.

In its 2018 outlook for tourism in Botswana, BMI says the number of tourists expected to visit the country could this year increase from 2.7 million recorded in 2017 to 2.9m in 2018 and reach 3.1m in 2019.

According to the company, the number of tourists who visit Botswana has been increasing since 2014. Figures from the company show that in 2014, 2.1m tourists visited Botswana while in 2015 the number increased by 20.1%to reach 2.5m. Statistics show that in 2016 tourists arrivals increased by 4.2% to reach 2.6m.

BMI analysts note that international tourism receipts are also set to increase by 10.8% from P13.13 billion recorded in 2017 to P14.55 billion in 2018 and reach P16.27 billion in 2019. The analysts revealed that international tourism receipts have been increasing since 2014, with figures showing that receipts rose by 17.7% to reach P8.78 billion in 2014 while in 2015 the country recorded P9.62 billion international tourism receipts and P11.53 billion in 2016.

According to the analysts, revenues generated by the hotel and restaurant industry are expected to increase following the projected increase in tourism arrivals in the country. The hotel and restaurant industry is expected to this year generate around P10.50 billion from P9.90 billion recorded in 2017.

Projections from the company show that revenues generated by the industry could increase by 6.5% to reach P11.18 billion in 2019. The industry generated P7.96 billion in 2014, P8.41 billion (2015) and P9.25 billion in 2016.

BMI’s latest figures indicate that in 2017, a total of 75,500 jobs in Botswana were related to the tourism industry and the number of jobs is expected to increase to 97,000 by 2026, highlighting the importance of the country’s tourism industry.

“Botswana is a small country but has a growing tourism market in the competitive southern Africa region and will grow steadily through our forecast period to 2021,” the analysts say. “The country is highly reliant on Zimbabwe and South Africa for arrivals, but will slowly diversify attracting visitors from wealthier markets by positioning itself as a luxury safari destination.”

The analysts have expressed optimism that investment in the hotel industry could help attract more tourists into the country despite the low investment in tourism related infrastructure such as airports. “Investment in infrastructure such as airports is low and flight connections will remain limited with long-haul arrivals that require one or two connections, but the country is seeing investment from major international hotel chains for the first time, which will boost the quality of the country ‘ s offering,” the analysts say.

They note that it is important for the Botswana Government to focus on developing tourism-related infrastructure and further expand the number of arrivals and provision of services. To that end, in its bid to raise more funds for the support and development of tourism-related infrastructure, government has announced a new USD30 levy on all tourists entering the country from outside the SADC region from June 1, 2017.

Said a BMI analyst, commenting on whether the levy could support the tourism industry: “It is not yet clear whether the levy will fulfill its intention of increasing funding for the industry, or conversely have a negative impact on arrivals.”