It is now official, the Toyota Desert Race (TDR) 1000 KM racing circus will be kicking up dust in Selibe Phikwe in a few months’ time. The race, which forms part of the South African Cross-Country series leaves the Jwaneng mining town which has been its host for the past five years and relocates to Selibe Phikwe, a town home to defunct copper mining operations and economic challenges.
The race will now call Phikwe home for the next five years following a Memorandum of Association signing between Selibe Phikwe Economic Diversification Unit (SPEDU) and the TDR 1000 organisers this past Wednesday. SPEDU has lured the annual racing spectacle to the region as part of a strategic plan to turn the area into a premier sport tourism hub and hopefully reawaken the town. “When we bid for the rights to host the Toyota 1000km Desert Race for its next five-year cycle, we knew that the competition would be very fierce. After all, this is a race that holds the record of being Botswana’s biggest sporting and social event of the year,” said SPEDU Chief Executive Officer, Dr Kubang Mokubung after the MoU signing in Phikwe.
“This is a race that brings spectators from virtually all parts of Southern Africa and reaches millions across the African continent via a popular TV channel. We were determined to not fail the hundreds of thousands of people who call the SPEDU Region home and gave this bid our all. I am happy that our effort didn’t go to waste and today we have put a smile on the faces of people who live in a region much larger in size than some countries.” Dr Mokubung applauded one of the event custodian the Botswana Tourism Organisation for a vote of confidence in the SPEDU region and assured stakeholders that they will not disappoint in the next five years of hosting the event.
Furthermore, Dr Mokubung said it will be up to government, race officials and farmers to develop a race route on the designated land and in that way the economic productivity of the land that has lain fallow for decades will be significantly enhanced. “In that regard I am happy that BTO takes meticulous care to ensure that the land on which the race is held is used in an environmentally sustainable manner.
As the race headquarters, start-and-finish point as well as designated service park, the town of Selebi Phikwe will provide first-class infrastructure and amenities befitting of its status as one of Botswana’s first towns.”Dr Mokubung said it was necessary to share SPEDU’s sports tourism programme with stakeholders:
“Sports tourism is emerging as a hugely lucrative component of the global tourism market. As a matter of fact, market research analysis by Technavio predicts that global sports tourism market will grow at a compound annual growth rate of more than 41 percent between 2017 and 2021.”