Gaborone - The International Tourism Bourse (ITB-Berlin) has described Botswana as “Africa's best kept secret” and selected the country to be the first-ever Southern African official partner of the 2017 ITB travel and trade show set to take place in the German capital next year.
According to the ITB-Berlin, the agreement to make Botswana the 2017 official partner of the world's leading travel and trade show was signed in Berlin on March 9 between Botswana Tourism minister Tshekedi Khama and ITB-Berlin chief executive officer of Messe Berlin.
In a statement released after the signing ceremony, ITB-Berlin head David Ruetz said Botswana was selected because of its successful implementation of sustainable tourism initiatives, and would benefit from the show by being placed on the spotlight as a leading global tourism destination.
“Botswana is Africa's best-kept secret. Two contrasting natural features characterise this country: the Kalahari Desert and the Okavango Basin with its many animal species, large forests, and innumerable streams that empty into small lakes. Particularly during the rainy season, visitors on trips and safaris can marvel at the unique fauna and flora.
“The diverse cultural heritage of the country, the warm hospitality shown by its people, as well as sustainable tourism make Botswana an unrivalled holiday destination in southern Africa.
“The fact that almost 40 percent of the country's surface area has been declared a national park, wildlife or nature reserve is testimony to the exemplary efforts undertaken to actively preserve nature,” Ruetz said.
In his remarks, Khama said as the country's premier tourism marketing authority, the Botswana Tourism Organisation (BTO) would seize the opportunity offered by the country's prestigious status as the official partner of ITB-Berlin 2017 to share its nature conservation achievements and consolidate the country's position as a top global tourism destination.
“The Botswana Tourism Organisation has taken the opportunity to become the partner country of ITB Berlin 2017 in order to share Botswana's nature conservation achievements with the rest of the world and to raise general awareness of this country.
Botswana's role as the partner country of the world's largest travel trade show will ensure the long-term attention of the global tourism industry.
“It will not only place the spotlight on Botswana's tourism successes but will also focus attention worldwide on our potential for economic development. In the past Botswana has achieved great success that has remained largely unnoticed around the world. Botswana will also benefit from this year's fiftieth anniversary of ITB Berlin.
“Numerous activities and events will give us the opportunity to market and promote our country as a tourism destination and to improve our returns on investment,” Khama said.
In 2015 a total of 10 096 companies and organisations from 186 countries across the globe exhibited their products and services to 175 000 visitors at ITB-Berlin.
Of these, 115 000 were trade visitors. The annual showcase routinely include a trade exhibition that is run concurrently with networking and business conferences.
Botswana participated at the just-ended 2016 showcase, which was the 50th edition of ITB-Berlin.
African News Agency (ANA)