In the aftermath of President Donald Trump reportedly calling Haiti, El Salvador, and various African nations “shithole countries,” Botswana is using the controversial remark to its advantage as part of a new tourism campaign, which in turn could help support key conservation efforts in the ecologically rich locale.
As noted by Vice, several countries have poked fun at Trump's comments — a Zambian tourism agency now refers to that nation as “****hole Zambia” — but Botswana has taken a slightly different approach that actually highlights some of what the southern African country has to offer.
Botswana officially branded itself a “waterhole country," drawing attention instead to the diverse and beautiful creatures that call the nation home by sharing pictures of various animals quenching their thirst at different watering holes.
Given the wide array of wildlife that roam Botswana, the play on words seems inspired. According to CNN, the country, though sparsely populated by humans, boasts around 40 percent of Africa's entire elephant population and is also home to a myriad of other species tourists love to see, such as lions, leopards, and hippos.
Due to this abundant wildlife population, Botswana has been careful about how it grows its booming tourism industry, placing emphasis on ecotourism and conservation as opposed to run-of-the-mill safaris and name-brand hotels. “The number of visitors we have into Botswana is between 2.6 and 2.7 million, which is more than the population of Botswana,” Tshedidi Khama, Botswana's Minister for Environment, Wildlife and Tourism, told CNN. “We have made a deliberate decision to grow tourism in this country and become imaginative in the way in which we're doing that.”
The decision to adopt an ecotourism strategy came in 2002 in an effort to conserve Botswana's natural resources and wildlife, and ecotourism now contributes approximately five percent towards the country's growing GDP.
In addition to several eco-friendly hotels, Botswana also has a code of conduct in place for tour operators that’s enforced by the Hospitality and Tourism Association of Botswana (HATAB) and the government. Regular checks are done by officials to ensure companies stay focused on the environmental protection policy.
“I believe we are probably the best destination in the world with ecotourism,” Khama told CNN.
Kudos to the country's tourism ministry for turning a callous remark into something to be proud of.
Cover image via Shutterstock / Mike Dexter.