Alcohol sale a boost during peak season
After a long and an uncertain period for the tourism industry in Chobe, operators are hopeful that the last three months of the peak season will bring back life to the tourism township.
Chobe, just like many other tourist destinations was hit hard by the Covid-19 restrictions.
“The long July holidays were the worst ever in Kasane,” said Lloyd Le Roux of Sand Piper Villas.
Leroux said the inconsistencies in travel restrictions have been a nightmare for hotel and lodge owners in Chobe.
“In July we were almost fully booked but following the inter-zonal movement restrictions and alcohol ban, we had a lot of cancellations. We had to watch as the holidays went by without any bookings,” lamented Leroux.
The soft spoken business man and knowledgeable guide said while their businesses are not dependent on the consumption of alcohol, its ban had an adverse effect on their income.
“People were complaining. Nobody wanted a sundowner on a can of coke,” he said.
The business man said while the ministry had made it easy by allowing lodges to apply for permits on behalf of their clients, it has also proved too costly.
“If you had a PCR cover test done, a lodge would apply on your behalf, but remember a PCR test cost P500 per person, so a family of four will have to pay P2000 to come here, and another P2000 to return if they’re from outside Botswana,” lamented Leroux.
He was however optimistic that with the recent relaxed regulations, the situation will normalise.
“We’ve received a few tourists from South Africa, and a few self drives here and there but it’s a bit slow. I’m however hopeful that it’ll pick up,” he said.
Chobe Game Lodge Head Guide, Tshepiso Vivian Diphuphu said they’ve also been receiving tourists from the UK, USA and South Africa.
“Bookings picked up around May, but it wasn’t the usual numbers we expected during the peak season which is from April to November. We hope to see the increase in numbers before the rainy season starts,” she said.
Diphuphu said during the alcohol ban, their guests understood their predicament and did not fuss too much about alcohol.
“We offer a lot more than alcohol. As the only permanent safari lodge within the Chobe National Park, with all the 47 rooms facing the river, we’re the ideal place from which to explore the very best of one of Botswana’s most iconic regions,” she said.