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Tourism industry yet to roar

Although the borders have been open for months and travel restrictions drastically eased, the tourism industry is still to shake off the aftereffects of Covid-19.

The pandemic brought the sector, traditionally one of the country’s big revenue earners, to a virtual standstill for close to 18 months.

According to Kgori Capital, a leading Botswana-focused investment manager, while there are positive signs, the industry is still operating well below breakeven capacity and faces a future hazy with doubt.

Giving quarterly market insight this week, the company’s Chartered Financial Advisor (CFA), Tshegofatso Tlhong, said, “We have noted the uptick in advance bookings; a positive indicator that the reopening of the sector is gaining traction, albeit from a very low base. Despite the green shoots, the uncertainties facing the industry remain.”

Looking forward, Tlhong admitted the road to recovery would be long, bumpy and full of twists and turns.

“The uneven nature of the recovery and the uncertainty around the timing of fiscal support flow will keep balance sheet strength, market positioning and dividend flows at centre stage,” she added.

Meanwhile, in a boost to international travellers, last Friday Air Botswana resumed flights to and from Zimbabwe and Zambia.

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The national airliner will fly from Gaborone to Harare and Lusaka two times a week – on Fridays and Sundays.

The General Manager, Agnes Khunwana is confident this will eventually be increased to three weekly flights as demand builds.

“We are pleased about the development it heralds that travel demand is gradually increasing after the global paralysis brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Khunwana

“We are optimistic that, in due course, the desire to travel will be even stronger and have positioned ourselves to cope with the much anticipated travel demand both locally and regionally,” she added.

Khunwana explained the airline will deploy EMBRAER 170 Jet to service the new route, as well as other regional routes, including Gaborone to Cape Town.

She revealed the timing of the flights allows connections between Lusaka, Harare and Cape Town, reducing travelling hours for customers.

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