Botswana Nature-Based Tourism Policy Review

This study created better evidence and intelligence on nature-based tourism, in particular how it contributes to Botswana’s management of national resources, economic diversification and reduction of poverty. Acorn Tourism worked closely with the Ministry of Environment Wildlife and Tourism and the World Bank to provide vital input into Botswana’s National Development Plan (NDP 11).

The Brief

Botswana was in the process of revising its tourism policy and developing a longer-term strategy for tourism development in the country. There was an urgent need to have a better understanding of the nature-based tourism segment which makes up the majority of Botswana’s leisure tourism market. There was very little research and analysis specifically into the leisure tourism sector which is mainly nature-based tourism and a robust analysis of the sector was required.

Our Solution

The initial task included a comprehensive review of all existing literature and data that covered a range of topics within the nature-based tourism context including:

  • The existing tourism policy, legal and regulatory framework and institutional policy in Botswana.
  • Analysis of the low-volume high-value tourism concept in Botswana and other international examples.
  • A comparative analysis of Botswana with regional competing destinations, including Namibia, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique.
  • Comparative analysis of Botswana with other relevant destinations in Africa and worldwide.
  • Emerging policy directions in Botswana, in particular with reference to the National Development Vision and NDP 11.
  • International trends and developments in the nature-based tourism segment.
  • Identification and documentation of any relevant case studies of relevance for Botswana.

We then undertook a Nature-Based Tourism Impact Analysis, reviewing the economic, social and environmental impacts of nature-based tourism in Botswana at both national and local levels including:

  • Types of nature-based tourism provision: investigation of impact based on different models, including community involvement (e.g. CBNRM, community campsites), various levels of service provision (e.g. luxury lodges, mid-priced accommodation), and operation (e.g. eco-lodges).
  • Carrying capacity: investigation of carrying capacity issues, that ranged from environmental issues through to visitor perceptions of tourist numbers (the feeling of exclusivity) in a given area.  


In order to develop the right policies and strategies, it was necessary to understand the key challenges that are faced in Botswana with regards to the development of nature-based tourism.  The analysis of these included:

  • Infrastructure: particularly focussing on water and electricity but also road and air access.
  • Human Resources: the availability and skills required for the operation of businesses to cater for tourism at the level of service that is required.
  • CBNRM: specific constraints that are faced by businesses that are in partnership with Community Based Natural Resource Management stakeholders.
  • General “Doing Business”: day-to-day issues that are faced by operators when running their businesses.

These challenges were identified and discussed with operators during the extensive consultation phase of the study. Experience from challenges and solutions observed and experienced in other countries were applied to the overall analysis.

Following the delivery of the Draft Report, a consultation workshop was held with key stakeholders and their feedback used to produce the Final Report and 4-page Briefing Paper with 8 key recommendations for Ministers. 

“The Permanent Secretary for Environment, the Director of Tourism and Tourism Officer are all very pleased with your work, analysis and reports and we plan follow-up discussions in Botswana on how best to take forward the main recommendations. Our management team is also keen to build on this work. Once again, many thanks for the excellent work.”