The Government of Botswana is driving the country’s annual Desert Race, as part of efforts to put Botswana on the sports tourism map.
Established in 1975, the Toyota Kalahari Botswana 1000 Desert Race (TDR), hosted by the Botswana Tourism Organisation, has grown to become the most popular and lucrative sporting event in the country.
Acting PR and Communications Manager of TDR, Samuel Lephalo, says the success of the desert race is that it is seen as a sporting adventure, attracting international visitors, with sport being a useful tool to draw tourists to Botswana. “Sporting adventure involves a lot of participation from…different participants across the globe. Therefore, the government took this initiative to explore different avenues as well as penetrate other markets that we previously didn’t have the opportunity to [enter]. So this has given us the platform to market our country even further.”
Lephalo says the TDR has a significant impact on the economy and other tourism stakeholders in the country. “If you look at the number of people that the event attracts – accommodation facilities benefit; facilities like fuelling stations benefit; even the community benefits in that they are able to sell different services as well as arts and crafts during this event.”
Over 120 000 spectators bring in excess of €400 000 in foreign exchange to the country each year, with this year’s event taking place from June 21 to 23.