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Botswana reopens Okavango Delta campsite as tourism rebounds

A Botswanan eco-tourism company has announced plans to reopen the Vumbura Plains campsite in the world-renowned Okavango Delta next month as the tourism industry rebounds. Photo: Pixabay.

A Botswanan eco-tourism company has announced plans to reopen the Vumbura Plains campsite in the world-renowned Okavango Delta next month as the tourism industry rebounds. Photo: Pixabay.

Published Mar 8, 2022

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Gaborone - A Botswanan eco-tourism company has announced plans to reopen the Vumbura Plains campsite in the world-renowned Okavango Delta in April as the tourism industry rebounds due to impressive Covid-19 vaccination roll-out and lifting of travel restrictions.

According to Wilderness Safaris Botswana, the eco-tourism company, the refurbished Vumbura Plains’ fresh new look and feel celebrate its sense of place within the local culture and Okavango Delta, which is one of Africa’s last great natural sanctuaries where vast concentrations of wildlife roam.

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Kim Nixon, the ecotourism company's managing director, told Xinhua on Tuesday that the new design elements showcase the camp’s core purpose, while art installations highlight Vumbura’s heritage through individual stories on basket weaving, local traditional fishing techniques and the area’s phenomenal wildlife.

In refurbishing the campsite, the company has partnered with the Okavango Community Trust (OCT), which distributes funds for community upliftment and aid to remote northern communities in refurbishing Vumbura Plains.

“We are particularly proud of our partnership with the OCT in the Vumbura Private Wilderness Area where we operate Vumbura Plains and Little Vumbura camps. Rights to the use of the concession belong to five villages, which between them have a population of approximately 5 500 people,” said Nixon.

Over the years, Okavango Wilderness Safaris has enjoyed a successful partnership with the Trust, the chiefs and the local communities that dates back to its inception.

Nixon added that by choosing to stay at Vumbura Plains, guests contribute to a partnership that has thrived for over 20 years, and brought many benefits to the people living in this remote area of northern Botswana -- through revenue generation, job creation and alternative sources of income.

Wilderness leases the Vumbura area from the OCT and pays close to $500 000 (about R7.6 million) in concession fees each year. Together, the camps employ 150 people, almost all of whom come from OCT villages. The salaries paid to these staff members support 20% of the combined population of the villages, said Nixon.

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The relationship between Wilderness and the OCT extends to skills development through an in-house training school accredited by the Botswana Qualifications Authority. Through this school, many community members have found long-term employment, as evidenced by the fact that over 70% of the camp staff have been employed for more than five years and nearly 40% for more than 10 years. Most have risen through the ranks, including a number who have become senior managers within the Wilderness organisation, and the tourism industry in general.

Wilderness also runs ongoing income-generating initiatives in partnership with community-based organisations, including bee-keeping, horticulture and milling, with the aim of improving the employability and livelihoods of OCT community members.

“The benefits of our partnership with the OCT extend far beyond simple economics. By deepening and strengthening the relationship, the benefits of our joint initiatives reach the people who most deserve them. We never forget that we’re not here for what Vumbura can do for us, we’re here for what we can do for Vumbura and its people,” said Moalosi Lebekwe, the stakeholder manager of Wilderness Safaris Botswana.

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Xinhua News Agency

Related Topics:

tourismAfricaTourism

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