Botswana

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FACT FILE

Time zone: GMT+2
Plugs: M-Plug, G-Plug, Europlug
Dialling code: +267
Currency: Pula – $1=10.8BWP
Language: English, Setswana

Botswana is the world’s largest producer of diamonds, but the government is attempting to reduce the over-reliance on this industry, through diversification. Botswana, though, remains an attractive investment option.

“Botswana is perhaps Africa’s most economically transparent and mature market and offers good growth potential as one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, with a GDP (purchasing power parity) per capita of about $18,825 per year as of 2015, which is one of the highest in Africa,” says Jan van der Putten, Vice-President: Africa and Indian Ocean for Hilton Worldwide.

CITIES

From a business travel point of view, much of the focus is on the capital and largest city, Gaborone, in the south-east of the country. Modern day Gaborone boasts four large American-style ‘malls’, replete with cinema complexes, quality hotels, guest houses and restaurants, an international airport, a cultural centre, nightclubs, a national museum and art gallery, as well as two golf courses.

AIRLINES & AIRPORTS

Domestically, Air Botswana operates from Gaborone to Francistown, Maun and Kasane. Internationally, it flies to Johannesburg, Cape Town, Harare, and Lusaka. Other routes include Maun-Johannesburg, Francistown-Johannesburg and Kasane-Johannesburg.

Other airlines that operate into Botswana are SA Express, between Gaborone and Johannesburg; Air Namibia, with flights between Windhoek and Maun; Airlink, with flights from Johannesburg to Gaborone, Maun and Kasane, as well as Cape Town to Maun; and Kenya Airways, which operates direct flights between Nairobi and Gaborone.

Sir Seretse Khama International Airport is 15 kilometres north of Gaborone and its facilities include luggage storage, luggage shrink wrap, banks, a bar, snack bar, restaurant, post office, duty-free shops and car hire.

“The airport’s multi-million pula refurbishment project was recently completed and it now has an increased capacity to handle regional and international traffic,” says Patrick Chivese, Group Sales and Marketing Manager of Cresta Hotels.

In early 2013 Air Botswana unveiled its new lounge. The Pula Lounge offers services such as free wi-fi, refreshments and television, and is situated just off the international departures hall. The lounge is open to Club Gold and Diamond card holders of Air Botswana’s Teemane Club loyalty programme. Through Priority Pass, passengers have access to the Nthula Lounge, which has wi-fi. This lounge is airside – after immigration turn right and the lounge is located straight ahead.

It is possible to rent a car at the airport, as big car rental brands Avis, Budget and Europcar have a presence there, although hotel and transfer shuttles can be arranged.

HOTELS

Lonrho Hotels opened the 5-star Lansmore Masa Square in 2012, before the group sold the hotel to the property’s landlord – RDC Properties – in April of 2015. African Hotels & Adventures (AHA) was awarded the management and marketing contract.

The other major change in 2015 saw the Gaborone Sun renamed the AVANI Gaborone Resort & Casino. This followed the announcement earlier in the year that Sun International had sold the majority of its African assets to Minor Hotel Group.

The newest players in the Gaborone hotel market are South Africa-based City Lodge, which opened the Town Lodge – its 2-star brand – in 2013, and Aquarian Tide, which opened along the A1 to Francistown in 2015.

Peermont is currently represented by the 5-star Walmont at The Grand Palm, 4-star Mondior, 3-star Metcourt Inn at The Grand Palm, and the Gaborone International Convention Centre, also at the Grand Palm. Peermont also has a Metcourt in Francistown.

Cresta Hotels has 10 properties across the country, including two in Francistown and two in Gaborone – Cresta President and Cresta Lodge. If you’re looking for representation across the country, Cresta has the biggest footprint, with its remaining properties in Jwaneng, Kasane, Mahalapye, Maun, Palapye, and Selebi-Phikwe.

Expected to open in 2017, the 150-room mid-market Hilton Garden Inn Gaborone hotel forms part of a new and evolving commercial business district, and will be just 13 kilometres from Sir Seretse Khama International Airport.

If you fancy your golf and have the time, give consideration to the 4-star Phakalane Golf Estate Hotel Resort, which has 80 rooms and serviced apartments.

VISAS

Citizens of most European and Commonwealth countries do not require a visa for entry into Botswana, however everyone should check with Botswana embassies or consulates before departure.

Travellers from the following African countries require visas to visit Botswana: Algeria, Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, DRC, Cote d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Eritrea, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Liberia, Libya, Mali, Madagascar, Mozambique, Rwanda, Senegal, Somalia, Sudan, Togo, and Tunisia.

CONTACTS
botswanatourism.co.bw

OPINION
Rupert Elliott
General Manager – Lansmore Masa Square
In Gaborone you disembark to find yourself in the middle of the tarmac, a short walk from the terminal. Hopefully the airline will have warned you to complete the border form prior to arrival. The airport is large and clean with not great shopping, but thankfully a new café in the form of the Mugg and Bean. If you are a frequent traveller you will most likely have booked into one of the big three hotels: Peermont, Avani or Lansmore. All three offer good options and your choice may well be affected by the location you need in the city. Wi-fi across all hotels runs at around 40MB and all hotels except Lansmore make a charge after an initial free period. Generally in town wi-fi is slow by international standards, though the Orange network now claims to run 4G. Aside from hotel eating and some well-known South African brands such as Rhapsody’s, Ocean Basket and Capello’s, Gaborone has a limited number of very good places. Caravella is a privately-owned Portuguese restaurant run by a couple who really care; Bai Sheng is a Chinese restaurant at the Grand Palm; and there’s the Beef Baron Grill & Rib Room, also at the Grand Palm. No visit to Gabs would be complete without a trip to The Bull and Bush (best pizzas in town) and to Mokolodi Nature Reserve, which has a restaurant that is a bit of an institution.

Airlines
Air Botswana – airbotswana.co.bw
Air Namibia – airnamibia.com.na
Airlink – flyairlink.com
BA – britishairways.com
Kenya – kenya–airways.com
SAA – flysaa.com
SA Express – flyexpress.aero

Car hire
Avis – avis.co.za
Bidvest  – bidvestcarrental.co.za
Budget – budget.com
Europcar – europcar.com
Hertz – hertz.co.za

Gaborone Hotels
Aquarian Tide – aquariantide.com
AVANI Gaborone Hotel & Casino – avanihotels.com
Cresta Lodge – crestahotels.com
Cresta President – crestahotels.com
Lansmore Masa Square – ahagroup.co.za
Peermont Metcourt Inn – peermont.com
Peermont Mondior – peermont.com
Peermont Walmont – peermont.com
Phakalane – phakalane.com 
Regent Select – regentselect.com
The Gaborone – gaboronehotel.com
Tlotlo – tlotlohotel.co.bw
Town Lodge – citylodge.co.za
Travelodge – travelodge.com.bw

TMCs
Amex – amextravel.co.za
CWT – carlsonwagonlit.com
Harvey World – harveyworld.co.za
HRG – hrgworldwide.com
SATC – satravelcentre.com

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