- Notes uneven growth across the sector post-Covid
- Recognises shift to meaningful travel experiences
The just-ended two-day Conference of the Hospitality and Tourism Association of Botswana (HATAB) held in Maun adopted resolutions and devised strategies to grow the tourism sector. Addressing the conference, the Chairperson of HATAB, Joe Motse, said tourism should be among top players in the economic development of Botswana.
Motse stated that although hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the sector has resurrected, even though growth has been uneven across the whole sector. He added that HATAB will continue to urge the government to collaborate with its members to ensure growth of the sector in pursuit of its mandate. Among resolutions adopted at the HATAB annual conference last year was for a review of grading and licensing, which also required everything being done in one department.
He told delegates that development of a HATAB catalogue of issues and engaging different government ministries is gradually taking shape because the government is also keen to find ways of improving service delivery and marketing of the tourism sector. Motse noted that the tourism industry in Botswana is dominated by local entrepreneurs, saying this is “very commendable” because they have a say in how it is run and are in a better position to improve it.
Speaking on how packaging the tourism product of Botswana plays a role in its turnout, Professor of Marketing and Tourism at the University of Mauritius and Adjunct Professor at the University of Botswana, Thanika Juwaheer, noted that with frequent lockdowns and an impulse for the new normal across the globe, tourism has suffered a considerable impact in the context of sustainability in protected areas of Botswana. Juwaheer said consumer motivation for travel is also changing, with 24 percent of travellers booking trips to visit friends and family, 20 percent interested in having a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and 19 percent choosing their next destination based on perceived ease of travelling.
She noted that while value is still important, post-pandemic travel will be predominantly defined by meaningful travel experiences. Juwaheer said this is because consumers have increased their expectations and therefore require that their needs be catered for. The needs may come in the form of comfort, safety, a good pricing strategy and smart care. Juwaheer stated that tourists in the post-COVID era will be less willing to compromise on their next trip. In order to keep up, the industry should prioritise offering services, facilities and experiences that cater to wellness, health and overall well-being.