Ecotourism in Botswana

Ecotourism in Botswana

Ecotourism in Botswana

By Robert Girling, Heather Gordy and Pamela Lanier 

 
Botswana is a country of just over 2 million people and one of the most sparsely populated nations in the world. Formerly one of the poorest countries in the world, today it is one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, with a modest standard of living and the highest Human Development Index in Sub-Saharan Africa. Botswana is one of Africa’s most stable countries and not surprisingly, is considered the least corrupt country in Africa ranking close to Portugal and South Korea.
 
Botswana has a wide diversity of wildlife habitat with blue wildebeest, antelopes, rhinoceros and 350 species of birds. There are more elephants in Botswana than any other country, the big cats roam free and there’s everything from endangered African wild dogs to aquatic antelopes.
 
The land of the Okavango Delta and the Kalahari Desert, iconic African landscapes and vast stretches of wilderness landscapes together with the wildlife that inhabits them is wild Africa at its best. The Chobe National Park and Moremi Game Reserve (in the Okavango Delta) are major tourist destinations.
 
 
Ecotourism
 
Conservation of Botswana’s natural resources, rich wildlife, and cultural heritage formally began in 2002 with the adoption of the country’s National Ecotourism Strategy based on five guiding principles:
 
  • Minimizing negative social, cultural and environmental impacts.
  • Maximizing the involvement in, and the equitable distribution of economic benefits to, host communities.
  • Maximizing revenues for re-investment in conservation.
  • Educating both visitors and local people as to the importance of conserving natural and cultural resources.
  • Delivering a quality experience for tourists 
 
These principles have been put into play through development of the Botswana Ecotourism Certification System in 2010, a voluntary, tourism industry-wide program run by Botswana Tourism and based on over 240 performance standards, is designed to encourage and support responsible environmental, social, and cultural behavior by tourism businesses. In keeping with sustainable tourism development and growth, Botswana Tourism has published an Ecotourism manual that serves to ensure development and growth has a minimal impact on the environment.
 
Since its inception, the number of Botswana eco-certified camps and lodges has grown to a total of 15 properties. Thirteen of the 15 properties have attained “Eco” status, the highest certification level: Banoka Bush Camp, Chobe Game Lodge, Jao Camp, Kalahari Plains Camp, Kwetsani Camp, Little Vumbura Camp, Savuti Camp, Xigera Camp, Zafara Camp, Jacana Camp, Meno A Kwena Tented Camp, Mombo Camp. [Source: http://www.adventuretravelnews.com/botswana-committed-to-conservation-and-ecotourism]
 
Chobe Game Lodge 
 
When the Chobe Game Lodge was built in 1972, environmental impact was a comparatively minor consideration. The aim of the development was to create an iconic property in the heart of the world-famous Chobe National Park. Over the years, though, as awareness has grown, and priorities have shifted as Botswana’s precious natural environment struggles to hold up under the immense pressures of the modern world. 
 
 
Today Chobe Game Lodge practices include the most advanced biogas plant in any Botswana lodge and processes over 100 kg of biodegradable waste a day for use by the kitchens and heating. It is estimated that it saves the environment from the effects of transportation and making proactive use of otherwise wasted resources from kitchen by-product. 
 
Around 95% of Chobe Game Lodge's waste is sorted and recycled appropriately. Waste that cannot be recycled is burnt at a very high temperature to minimize the CO2 emissions, with used cooking oil as fuel. The ash residue is used as fertilizer for the new tree plantings within the Lodge gardens to increase the Chobe bushbuck habitat and create even more birdlife habitat. [Source: http://www.chobegamelodge.co.bw/about/eco-tourism/projects-glance]​
 
 
Botswana is a great example of a whole country chock full of the kind of examples we highlight in our new textbook:
 
The Good Company: Sustainability in Hospitality, Tourism and Wine includes case studies from of hotels, cruise lines, tour operators, agri-tourism, wineries and much more . Throughout the book, we address a variety of questions innovators and  entrepreneurs have and note the lessons these companies can teach to those who want to build sustainable businesses that address the world’s social and environmental problems. The book’s final chapter points to ways in which the hospitality industry can contribute to positive change with respect to social and environmental justice.
 
The book begin with a discussion of the principles of sustainable tourism and the strategies that underlie enterprises that follow these principles considering the economic impacts, environmental and ecological impacts as well as social and cultural impacts and contributions that companies may make.
 
The book will be available next month from Business Expert Press.

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