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ABSA 2009: Botswana Tourism Board in Major Desert Race role

The Botswana Tourism Board is again playing a major role in the Toyota 1000 Desert Race, round four of the Absa Off Road Championship, from June 19 to 21. The event was officially opened by the chief executive officer of the Botswana Tourism Board at a recent gala function at Game City, the race headquarters for the event in Gaborone. A cocktail function was also held where the organisers of the event, the 4 Wheel Drive Club of South Africa, paid tribute to the pivotal role sponsors and partners play in making the Toyota 1000 Desert Race one of the most popular and successful events on the annual motorsport calendar.

"Along with Toyota we work very closely with the Botswana Tourism Board and other government departments," said Clerk of the Course Skean Drummond. "The club has been involved with the event since its inception, and over nearly 30 years the race has developed into the biggest annual sporting event in Botswana.

"A major part of the success of the race is the good relationship we have with the Botswana Tourism Board and the other government departments with whom we deal." Drummond added the influx of competitors, support teams and spectators from South Africa and neighbouring countries provide a major shot in the arm for Botswana tourism. The weekend also provides Botswana government coffers with a major financial injection.

"To Botswana the event is probably worth in the region of R5 million to R6 million in foreign exchange," Drummond said. "On top of that there is a tourism spin-off in that large numbers of people who are either competitors or spectators have discovered Botswana as a leisure destination."

He added that apart from the tourism boost, the Toyota 1000 Desert Race provided numerous opportunities along the route for small scale entrepreneurs to provide a wide range of services to competitors and spectators. It is expected that over the three days the event will draw in excess of 80 000 spectators from Botswana, South Africa and neighbouring territories.

"The Duma fm radio station will provide live coverage and spread the event message to a wide audience," Drummond said. "There will also be a Toyota 1000 Desert Race shop at Game City where manufacturers and teams will have on sale items like shirts, jackets, caps, memorabilia and other merchandise."

Drummond added that around 120 officials were involved in this year’s race organisation, and would be supplemented by 11 medical and rescue vehicles. All race officials will be in radio communication, and about 400 Botswana police officers would be deployed along the route to handle crowd control.

"Organising the Toyota 1000 Desert Race is a major logistical exercise, but in many respects this is a unique event with a truly Africa flavour," Drummond added. "Along the route the local communities, together with cows, donkeys, goats and chickens add a dimension to the race that is typically African."

2009/06/01 | 18:37 CET | Editor: MR/HS/Charmaine Fortune

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