With Covid-19 bringing tourism in the country to a virtual standstill, Statistics Botswana has released an untimely reminder of just how important the sector is to the nation.
According to the recently published Tourism Statistics Annual Report for 2018, Botswana welcomed over 1.8 million tourists in 2018, a 3.5 percent increase from the previous year.
The majority of these visitors came from South Africa, which accounted for 35 percent of the total, closely followed by Zimbabwe on 29.5 percent.
As for the reasons for traveling to Botswana, over one in four (27 percent) – that’s 426, 782 people – said they were visiting friends or family. The second most popular reason for coming to the country was for business purposes, at 23 percent, with holidaymakers accounting for 22.5 percent of all visitors to Botswana in 2018.
Indeed, 2018 was actually a relatively disappointing year for the number of people venturing to Botswana for a holiday, with the 411, 980 total signifying an 18 percent drop from the 502, 309 individuals who entered the country on vacation in 2017.
Ranked fourth in the ‘reason for entry’ race was ‘Religious, Conferencing, Sports, Medical & Shopping activities’ accounting for 8.7 percent of all 2018 visitors to the country. This represented a slight increase from 156, 756 people in 2017 to 159,983 in the proceeding 12 months.
In terms of countries of origin for tourists journeying to Botswana in 2018, the majority did not have to travel far, with 1.5 million (83.2 percent of all visitors) residing in the SADC Region.
The top ten overseas countries recorded 224, 360 tourists between them, accounting for 12.3 percent of the total visitors to Botswana two years ago.
Of this figure, more than a quarter – 28.6 percent – reside in the United States of America, with the country recording 64, 126 visitors to Botswana. Germany residents were the top European travelers with 42, 111 individuals making the journey to Botswana compared to 33, 392 from the United Kingdom. Between them, the three nations made up 62.3 percent of the top ten overseas travelers to Botswana in 2018.
December proved the most popular month of arrival for tourists that year, with 10.5 percent, followed by August and July at 9.5 percent and 9.4 percent respectively.