South African economist Francois Stofberg says a weaker Rand, compared with the currencies of other countries in the Southern African Development Community (SADC), has the potential of attracting more tourists from neighbouring Botswana into South Africa.

The capital of North West Province, Mahikeng, continues to experience a high influx of citizens from Botswana this festive season giving a boost to the local economy, he notes.

According to reports from Batswana, food, clothes and alcohol are cheaper in South Africa as a result of a favourable exchange rate and Batswana cross the Ramatlabama border checkpoint near Mahikeng in large numbers daily to shop in local malls on this side of the border.

Some also visit towns such as Zeerust and Mahikeng for leisure.

Shoppers from Botswana believe that there is a big difference when buying in South Africa than in their own country because they get more value for their money. However, they are expected to declare the purchased goods at Customs, and produce the necessary receipts, when they cross the border to return home.

Meanwhile, some lodges in Mahikeng are also benefiting from the influx of visitors from Botswana.

Lowatle Guesthouse in the capital is a favourite with the tourists and they regard it as their second home.

Thierry Proctor, a receptionist at the guesthouse, attests to the fact that most of the bookings are made by citizens from Botswana and adds that business is good.

The Batswana come here in numbers. They book here almost every day. They really like our guesthouse because we are just near the road. Even now I have couples of Batswana booked for today, Proctor said Tuesday.

Francois Stofberg, who is an economist with Efficient Group, a public-litsed integrated financial services company, says the tactic that the Batswana are using in targeting the weaker Rand is wise. He says the Department of Tourism should use this opportunity to attract more tourists who come for shopping in South Africa.

Now they also have a stronger currency, which means that the products are cheaper to acquire in South Africa. So it is a good input into the Mahikeng economy , it’s an external money flowing into a particular point in South Africa but it is a leakage for Botswana.

Some of the citizens from Botswana say they come specifically to buy liquor in preparation for the festive season.