According to a Geography Professors- Robert K Hitchcock and Rodney L Brandenburg, the impacts of tourism on indigenous peoples are a subject of concern in both anthropology and socioeconomic development.
Tourism can be a powerful positive heightening people’s appreciation of indigenous customs and serve as a source of employment and income. However, in the event of overexposure it has a downside. It can exacerbate factionalism and social stratification in local communities and disrupting people’s daily routines.
For instance, a common complaint is that tourists do not treat Basarwa as they would other people. “they ask us to take off our clothes, so they can take pictures of us.”
Basarwa are frequently taken aback by the ostentatious display of wealth on the part of some tourists, who drive up in high value 4×4 vehicles and walk around in expensive safari clothing, draped with cameras and video recorders.
In their paper published in the Cultural Survival Quarterly Magazine of June 1990 entitled: “Tourism, Conservation, and Culture in the Kalahari Desert, Botswana”, Hitchcock and Brandenburg wrote that Botswana provides a useful example of the effects of tourism on indigenous people. Many of the tourists who visit the Kalahari Desert and adjacent areas do so in order to experience what they believe to be a kind of “primitive Eden,” a place where wild animals and human populations live in harmony, unaffected by outside forces.
Tourist brochures in the US, Europe, SA and other countries with tourism potential advertise Botswana as having “unspoiled habitats” and “some of the world’s last remaining hunter-gatherers, the diminutive Bushmen of the Kalahari.” Such made Botswana an increasingly popular tourist destination. Botswana has one of the fastest growing tourism industries in Africa contributing significant revenues to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). As announced by Kenneth Matambo the Minister of Finance & Economic Development in the 2018/19 budget, the domestic economy registered a growth of 4.3% in 2017 after contracting by 1.7% in 2015. This was mainly due to the improved performance of hotels, restaurants, transport infrastructure and communications.
Most visitors focus on the national parks and game reserves, many of which contain a wide array of large mammals, birds, and plant species. Today, however, there are paved roads to most of the major towns, with the notable exception of Maun, which is located on the edge of the Okavango Delta, a prime tourist destination.
Botswana’s national parks include Gemsbok National Park Kgalagadi, Mabuasehube Game Reserve Kgalagadi, Khutse Game Reserve Kweneng, Central Kalahari Game Reserve Ghanzi, Makgadikgadi Pans Game Reserve Northwest/Central, Nxai Pan National Park Northwest, Moremi Wildlife Reserve Northwest, Chobe National Park, Chobe and Gaborone Game Reserve Southeast.
In addition, there are monuments and world cultural heritage sites such as; Tsodilo Hills National Monument, Northwest, Aha Hills National Monument Northwest, Drotsky’s Cave and National Monument Northwest.
Based on research, it is possible to characterise Botswana’s tourism industry by using typology of tourism. The two main types of tourism in rural Botswana are environmental tourism (EnvT) and to a lesser extent, ethnic tourism (EthT).
While on one hand EnvT consists of visits by people who wish to observe geographical features or wildlife, EthTon the other hand includes visits to “exotic” peoples’ communities in order to witness traditional activities, rituals, and customs.
In some cases, ethnic tourists provide economic benefits to local people through purchasing handicrafts or paying various services.