One of the most politically and economically stable countries in Africa, Botswana has seen a continued growth in tourism
Africa may not spring to mind as a second home destination or investment hotspot, but some parts of the country are becoming contenders.
Botswana, the landlocked country in southern Africa, just north of South Africa, recently ranked number 36 in the world according to the 2008 Index of Economic Freedom , which is a report compiled by the Heritage Foundation and Wall Street Journal.
Botswana has remained peaceful and democratic since independence in 1966, and, with the opening of diamond mines in the 1970s, the country has been economically prosperous as well.
Botswana has managed to invest its diamond revenues carefully, but still relies heavily on the export of diamonds for most of its revenue.
This is likely to be the case for some time, though the Botswanan government is trying to diversify the economy by encouraging manufacturing industries to locate in the country.
Regional political instability, especially in neighboring Zimbabwe, but also in South Africa and Angola, will undoubtedly have an impact on Botswana, especially as refugees move into the country.
However, given its political and economic history and its current policies, Botswana is likely to remain one of the most prosperous African countries.
Plans are now afoot to promote travel and tourism in the country. Botswana's Minister of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism, Honorable Onkokame Kitso Mokaila, recently announced that, although they have been priorities for the country's economy in recent years, new, increased efforts will now be made.
The country, which has around 1.7 million inhabitants, has been one of the fastest growing nations in the world over the past quarter of a century, and the population is expected to reach two million by 2030.
Jacques De Bruin from the eco-friendly Limpopo-Lipadi development in Botswana, said, "Botswana is one of Africa's little known economic success stories.
"After independence in 1966, the country's economy averaged 9% growth a year up until 1999, giving it one of the fastest per capita growth rates in the world.
"This jaw-dropping economic expansion has been mainly due to Botswana's thriving diamond industry, which produces the bulk of the country's exports.
"Today Botswana has a negligible level of foreign debt with foreign exchange reserves of over $7 billion in 2005/2006, Mr De Bruin added.
The travel and tourism demand in Botswana is forecast to average 5% growth per annum over the next 10 years which will easily exceed expected worldwide growth of 4.4%.
In 2006 the Botswana Tourism Board reported that travel and tourism accounted for one in every 10 jobs and in 2008 that figure is expected to improve to one in every 9. By 2018 this figure is set to rise to one in every 7.5 jobs.
The country is planning to concentrate on developing nature-based and sustainable tourism. The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) has listed the ongoing land allocation for tourism, conservation and environmental efforts. "Eighty four per cent of Botswana is land locked surface area covered by the Kalahari desert, 17% by national parks and game reserves and an additional 22% designated as wildlife management areas.
"Even if tourism is diversified through the promotion of new products, the majority of visitors will still be primarily attracted to Botswana by its unspoilt environment and abundant wildlife.
"It is therefore vital that these irreplaceable assets continue to be protected if travel and tourism is to be sustained," the WTTC added.
If you are thinking of investing in Botswana, one option is Limpopo-Lipadi, an independent game and wilderness reserve in eastern Botswana. Six lodge sites are planned to be completed in December 2009, some with views of the Limpopo river.
Alan Marneweck, Director of Limpopo-Lipadi, said, "We want people who are passionate about the bigger picture. We all have the same views practically speaking but it's how we see the responsibility as a project and ultimately the impact that it has on the nation."