“The dust of Africa never leaves the soles of your feet”
The saying goes: “The dust of Africa never leaves the soles of your feet” which must explain the continued growth in tourism on the continent and especially the nation of Botswana.
Botswana is one of the most politically and economically stable countries in Africa and it ranks number 36 in the world according to the 2008 Index of Economic Freedom, a report that is compiled by the Heritage Foundation and Wall Street Journal. This figure seems to be reflected in the comments from Botswana’s Minister of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism Honorable Onkokame Kitso Mokaila who recently announced that Travel and Tourism will be made a priority for the country’s economy even more than it has been in past years.
Botswana has been one of the fastest growing nations in the world over the past 25 years and with July 2008 being earmarked as the month of national heritage it is easy to see why this nation has a continuous growth in economical and tourist figures. It has a government and a people that believe in the bigger picture; a long term effect on the economy as an independent market and its place in the world market.
The travel and tourism demand in Botswana is forecast to average 5% growth per annum over the next 10 years which will comfortably exceed expected worldwide growth of 4.4%. The demand is already being reflected in the nation’s employment figures. In 2006 the Botswana Tourism Board reported that travel and tourism accounted for one in every 10 jobs and in 2008 they expect the figure to improve to 1 in every 9, by 2018 this figure is set to rise to 1 in every 7.5 jobs.
Developing other sub-sectors of travel and tourism in Botswana will see an expansion in nature-based and sustainable tourism. The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) highlights the ongoing land allocation for tourism and conservation and environmental efforts saying: “84% of Botswana is land locked surface area covered by the Kalahari desert, 17% by national parks and game reserves and an additional 22% designated as wildlife management areas. Even if tourism is diversified through the promotion of new products, the majority of visitors will still be primarily attracted to Botswana by its unspoilt environment and abundant wildlife. It is therefore vital that these irreplaceable assets continue to be protected if travel and tourism is to be sustained.”
Limpopo-Lipadi is an independent game and wilderness reserve in eastern Botswana which is celebrating its 5th year in development in October 2008 with the completion of 6 lodge sites planned for December 2009. Covering some 32,450 ha with the view to enlarging to 50,000+ ha and 21km of Limpopo river frontage the reserve is considerable. In terms of the time the team have dedicated to making sure this project is routed in the ethics of the country as a whole and its long term visions to implement more of the ecological and sustainable features of running such a large project, it goes without saying that investing is more than parting with some cash.
“I personally try to meet each one of our investors before we let them sign on the dotted line but there seems to be a real desire to invest in a lifestyle that can really make a difference both to an economy and personally” says Alan Marneweck, director of Limpopo-Lipadi: “ We want people who are passionate about the bigger picture. We all have the same views practically speaking but it’s how we see the responsibility as a project and ultimately the impact that it has on the nation. We are continually looking at the best ways of improving our work with the wildlife, community and the maintenance of all the areas of running such a project”
The Limpopo-Lipadi project perfectly represents the type of intelligent, improving and enabling eco-responsible tourism investment project that the government of Botswana is encouraging. At its core the project offers those with a keen interest in the nation, its wildlife and in augmenting the lives of the local people a chance to make a real difference. There are different levels of investment involvement that you can commit to – from a purely financial point of view, entry level investment is $195,000, but in terms of the difference that you can practically make and the benefits that you can personally witness and enjoy, they are limitless.