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Tourists forecast to spend P7.5bn in Botswana this year

MBONGENI MGUNI
International visitors are expected to spend P7.5 billion in the country’s travel and tourism industry, up 5.7% from last year, recently released forecasts by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) indicate.

The annual economic impact reports of the WTTC are the only available data studies on spending in the local travel and tourism industry. The other source, the Tourism Satellite Account conducted by government and the World Tourism Organisation, has only been conducted thrice, with the last report covering 2016.

According to the WTTC estimates, Botswana could welcome up to 1.87 million international tourists this year, who will collectively spend P7.52 billion on various goods and services for both business and leisure trips. The majority of the spending, the WTTC expects, will be by those tourists coming to Botswana on  leisure trips.

Expenditure by Batswana and other residents, as well as government specifically on tourism, is expected to reach P7.6 billion in 2018, up P7.2 billion in 2017. Meanwhile, the direct contribution of travel and tourism to the local economy is expected to rise 5.8% this year to P7.5 billion. “This primarily reflects the economic activity generated by industries such as hotels, travel agents, airlines and other passenger transportation services, excluding commuter services.

“It also includes, for example, the activities of the restaurant and leisure industries directly supported by tourists,” WTTC researchers explained.

The industry’s indirect contribution is projected to reach P22.6 billion

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in 2018, a growth of 4.9% on 2017.

“The total contribution of travel & tourism includes its ‘wider impacts’ that is the indirect and induced impacts on the economy,” the researchers added.

Direct employment in the travel and tourism sector is expected to rise to 27,000 from 26,000 in 2017, supported by the overall expansion of the sector and higher visitor numbers.

While the WTTC’s projections suggest rosy returns for players in the travel and tourism sector, analysts expect the pula’s growing strength against the US dollar to be a major threat in 2018.

Thus far this year, the pula has gained 10.4% against the greenback, while in 2017 it put on 7.9% against the dollar, buoyed by the climb of the rand in the second half of the year and weakness in the dollar.

In late February, the pula notched a three-year high against the dollar, being pegged at P9.49.

A strong pula discourages international tourists, as it heightens their costs. International travel to Botswana is generally conducted using the US dollar as the standard, while locally, the hospitality sector in the tourism heartland in the northwest prices their goods and services either in the US dollar or to match it.



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