In a competitive market with some well established players, Gaborone has come to the fore as one of southern Africa’s leading convention cities. In addition, the city is a natural location for many of the country’s home-grown shows and exhibitions that now attract visitors from outside Botswana.
Gaborone has a strong appeal for conference and incentive organisers, offering a range of sophisticated venues, the latest in audio-visual aids and equipment and top-class banqueting arrangements. With this superb range of facilities, the city is well able to host major, continent-wide conferences and exhibitions.
At the same time, Gaborone now has sufficient hotel room capacity, with a range of categories to suit all budgets, from luxury five-star properties to comfortable and often family-run lodges and guesthouses. Good food is widely available, too, with a range of internationally recognised chain restaurants and those offering the very best in haute cuisine.
Gaborone also scores highly in terms of its proximity to Johannesburg, its comparatively easy entry formalities for visitors from across Africa, its excellent security and its great spouse programmes with top-notch shopping. There is scope, too, for exciting add-on events and holidays; and the city is also a gateway for outdoor adventure and safari-based team-building events.
Gaborone’s attractiveness as an international conference destination is further enhanced by good regional air connections, with a wider-than-ever selection of direct flights by the national carrier, Air Botswana, and foreign airlines such as Kenya Airways.
Some of Gaborone’s largest hotels have separate conference facilities and much of their business is geared to this particular market. For example, the Peermont Walmont Hotel, which forms part of the Grand Palm on Molepole Road, is located alongside the Gaborone International Convention Centre (GICC), a truly world-class meeting place.
Centrepiece of the GICC is the 1,550 square metre Tsodilo Suite, which when used as a single venue can accommodate 1,040 guests in a banquet set-up, over 1,800 in cinema style and 1,550 for a cocktail reception. In fact, the Tsodilo Suite offers six configurations – anything from banquets and conferences to concerts and major sporting events. Other suites within the GICC cater for smaller parties.
For really big events, fairs and shows, there is the Botswana Conference & Exhibition Centre. Located close to the city centre on an impressive 50-hectare site and owned jointly by the government and Botswana Development Corporation, this facility is on an altogether different scale from GICC. The main conference hall, the Ditshupo, can seat 10,000 delegates while the smaller Boipuso can accommodate up to 2,000 in theatre style. There are three smaller conference rooms for up to 500 and even 13 break-out rooms for use as boardrooms for small-scale conferences and seminars.
The venue is fully provided with security and media facilities, ample parking and an excellent à la carte restaurant. The Pavilion pub and restaurant has good food; the bar area can be used for both formal and casual meetings; and the terrace offers an alternative place to gather.
The Centre is the venue for the nation’s biggest and most prestigious national trade shows, such as the Botswana Consumer Fair, Global Expo Botswana, the ITEX information technology exhibition and the FOBEX food and beverage exhibition.
Mention must also be made of Maun and Kasane. These frontier-type towns may seem a long way from anywhere, but they attract many locally based conferences and meetings from organisers who want a non-Gaborone venue with exceptional add-ons in terms of game viewing. In fact, HATAB always chooses Maun for its annual general meeting.