International and domestic tourists spent a total of P14.5 billion in the country in 2016, or one and half times more than the amount in 2009, which was the last time a comprehensive survey was conducted.
The results are contained in the 2016 Tourism Satellite Account (TSA) launched in Gaborone earlier this morning.
The TSA, the third conducted in Botswana starting with a pilot in 2006, is a research project designed to accurately gauge the contribution of tourism to the national economy.
According to data shared during the launch, spending by tourists in 2016 was 150% higher than the 2009 TSA, driven by higher volumes of tourists, longer stays and greater spending.
The latest TSA shows that tourism directly contributed 4.9% to the economy in 2016, up from 3.7% in 2009. Indirectly, the sector’s contribution in 2016 was estimated at 7.6%.
The indirect contribution includes value addition created by sectors such as the industries around consumables used in the tourism industry.
The TSA also indicates that the average length of stay by tourists in Botswana increased to 6.75 nights in 2016 from 5.32 nights in 2009.
Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism permanent
“Tourism has been identified as an important sector in the economy, providing jobs, local incomes and making contributions to government revenues.
“Tourism is based on personal service and it is therefore employment intensive. It is a major foreign exchange tax earner. It spreads wealth and builds skills.”
World Tourism Organisation statistician, David McEwen told Mmegi that the latest results were impressive.
The WTO has partnered with Botswana and other agencies in all three TSAs.
McEwen has been involved in all three as well.
“I would say Botswana has done very well. The country is always looking for how to improve and this is a good thing.
“It is also clear that both domestic and international tourism is growing,” he said.
The majority of international tourists to Botswana continue to be from South Africa and other neighbouring countries.