This past weekend, Gauteng Tourism Authority invited us on a trip to Botswana for their promotional drive for the South African province.
Our trip coincided with Botswana's Presidential Day holiday weekend as well as the 50th Independence celebrations for the country.
On why GTA selected Botswana to be the first on their promotional drive, Head of DESTINATION PROMOTIONS & MARKETING, Barba Gaoganediwe said;
"Botswana represent our core market with the bulk of them visiting Gauteng for shopping, attending our events and visiting families, relatives and friends (VFRF’s). We are not taking that positioning for granted hence we went back to say thank you for your continued support and these are some of the other things you can do while visiting Gauteng. You can cycle in the streets of Soweto, attend one of the biggest lifestyle market and interact with you ancestry at the Cradle of Humankind. We also activated a focused promotion drive of our lifestyle events i.e. Joburg Shopping Festival, Joy of Jazz and Gauteng SANSUI Summer Cup with specific packages."
This was more than just a 'here's what we have in South Africa' trip so I personally wondered if Mr Gaoganediwe felt their objectives on the trip were achieved.
"Overall we are happy with what we achieved. We interacted with Botswana media, tour operators, creative’ s and events promoters. We also as part of our market access programme and township economy revitalization provided over 7 youth owned township products a valuable market access opportunity across the border at no cost. Similarly we managed to get the support from our own media to travel with us and document our activation." said Barba Gaoganediwe
All that promo things aside, as someone who had never been to Botswana before, I enjoyed the trip. I learned immensely about how to engage with our immediate neighbours when it comes to policy and industry stratergic issue.
As South Africans, we often take our relationship with countries like Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland, Namibia and Mozambique for granted. We assume, since they talk like us and share some similarities in culture, we are the same. We are not. The cultural divide becomes apparent when dealing with delicate issues. I learned not to bulldoze conversations about such but rather to listen and let the them lead when Im in their country thus avoiding my coming off as arrogant.
The social dynamic are important because, though we invited to join GTA, we inadvertently became ambassadors for Mzansi and thus needed to conduct ourselves in a matter that reflected well on our country.
Quite the adventure and experience. Thank you Gauteng Tourism Authority!!