Qatar Airways (QA) will launch its inaugural flight to Gaborone, the capital city of Botswana on December 15, making it the first Middle Eastern airline to fly directly into the country, a QA official announced yesterday.
“The launch of this new route will further strengthen the ties between Qatar and Botswana, building on an already existing and flourishing relationship between our two countries. The new routes will offer seamless connectivity options for international travelers who wish to fly to Gaborone.
“It will also offer a direct link to our extensive global network of more than 160 destinations through Hamad International Airport, which was recently voted the fourth best airport in the world,” said Martha Tilahun Paulos, Vice-President, Commercial at QA while speaking at a session organised by the Botswana Tourism Organization (BTO) at the ongoing Hospitality Qatar Conference.
QA will be flying to Gaborone, Botswana three times per week. The flights will be operated by the state of the art Airbus A350-900 aircraft with 36 seats in business class and 247 seats in economy class, she added.
The new route by QA is expected to increase the number of Botswanan tourists from Qatar, said Myra Sekgororoane, CEO at Botswana Tourism Organization. Botswana, which is the largest producer of diamonds in the world, in terms of value, is in the process of economic diversification. The country seeks to further develop its tourism sector.
“Tourism revenues, which amounts to around 14.8 billion Botswanan Pula, is the second largest contributor to the country’s GDP at 4.5 percent. We receive around 1.7 million inbound tourists, and another million for domestic tourism every year. From the Gulf region, we usually have upmarket tourists signing up for luxury travels. But now, we’re also trying to attract the mid-income tourists including the expatriates who work in Qatar. There’s a huge number of expatriates that we want from the region, and that is a great potential for us,” Sekgororoane added while talking to The Peninsula on the sidelines of the event.
To date, Qatari citizens are exempted from the visa requirements to travel to Botswana. Expatriates will need to apply for tourist visas at the Botswanan Embassy in Kuwait. Sekgororoane added that online visa applications will soon be introduced.
Botswana’s Ambassador to Kuwait Manyepedza Lesetedi added that there are a number of investment opportunities available for Qatari entrepreneurs in Botswana, including game farming. “We’re now in the process of preparing for a Qatari delegation to come to Botswana to discuss opportunities with their counterparts by next year.
“Currently, there are no plans yet to open an embassy in Qatar, but that will be something to look at in the future. Especially, with the development with QA, then it means that our cooperation will grow and business will grow between the two countries. Then maybe our government will consider to have a physical presence here in Doha,” he added. During the event, a presentation on Botswanan tourist destinations including its World Heritage sites was shown to the participants.