Botswana seeks to attract Muslim tourists

Tehran (IQNA)-The African country of Botswana plans to attract tourists from West Asia.

Botswana’s valuable and low-cost tourist destinations are a major attraction in the country’s tourism industry, which, however, lacks Muslim-friendly facilities and hotels.

The Center for Humanitarian and Social Research (INSAMER) estimates that Muslims make up between 2 and 3% of Botswana’s 2 million people. This small population is concentrated in the capital Gaborone, where most halal restaurants are located.

According to the Botswana Muslim Association, as of April 2022, there were 44 halal restaurants in the country, almost all of which are located in Gaborone, and 21 mosques in the country. However, Botswana was not among the 19 African destinations for Muslim travelers during Ramadan, according to the World Muslim Travel Guide 2022 compiled by Crescentrating and Mastercard.

Bukani Matapa, Founder and Head of Women’s Section of Botswana’s Tourism Industry, said: “Gaborone has mosques and I have seen Muslims doing Friday prayers there. Most stores have a prayer room and are closed during prayers. There is no law on dress for Muslim women in the workplace and in schools, nor any issues regarding the hijab. Women in Botswana are also fully clothed and the clothing of Muslim tourists will not shock anyone. Also, as the peak of the safari season occurs during Africa’s cold winter, everyone should wear warm clothes. Botswana is a peaceful country and we have had no cases of religious intolerance. The 2021 Global Peace Index ranked Botswana as the third most peaceful country in Africa, and the 41th in the world, ahead of Greece and France. However, finding halal food at safari resorts – the heart of the Botswana travel experience – is not as easy as in the capital”.

Mandy Van Gran, Director at Go2Africa, said: “Most safari camps in Botswana do not offer halal food nor do the safari accommodations have a qibla sign for Muslim prayers. This problem can be easily solved as many of these properties have Wi-Fi and visitors can download a qibla search program. For Muslim tourists who want to swim, the only option is to book at a center that has a private pool, such as the Duba and Zarafeh Dove resorts which have tents in northern Botswana but charge higher prices.”

A month after the border reopened to international visitors, the Botswana Tourism Board was the guest of Dubai to boost tourism potential and investment opportunities in the country.

Botswana Tourism Month, held in January 2022, included a conference and Expo 2020 Dubai press briefings.

Wikiquote Tselong, Executive Director of Marketing at the Botswana Tourism Organization, said: “The Middle East is an emerging market for Botswana. However, information on the psychological, demographic and geographical characteristics of this market is insufficient, particularly in Africa and mainly in Botswana. Surveys have shown Botswana’s potential as a lucrative market and point to a strong trend in the Middle East market, due to its GDP being 5.3% higher than the world average of 4.1%, which indicates a higher purchasing power. Botswana recently launched the e-Visa platform in August 2021, which allows foreigners to apply online and receive a response within five hours. This is a huge improvement over the previous seven to 14 day process, which was only possible through diplomatic channels. Muslim tourists will be more numerous in Botswana, thanks to a set of health protocols and security measures”.


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Botswana seeks to attract Muslim tourists

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