American actor, rapper, and film producer Will Smith has reportedly vowed to put Botswana on the map as a global top destination and uplift talent in the country according to Tourism Minister Philda Kereng.
The American actor was in Botswana in July and spent two weeks at Nakwa Safaris’ North Island Okavango Camp in the Okavango Delta.
North Island Okavango opened in June and was privileged to host visiting American actor and film producer who fully booked the facility for the entire two weeks of his stay.
The news of Will Smith’s visit was met with enthusiasm in Botswana and even attracted the attention of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism, Philda Kereng.
Speaking recently during Botswana Tourism Investment Summit Kereng told the gathering:
“One day I wake up and I heard that Will Smith is in the Okavango Delta. I thought oh my god I can’t just let him go because he has got something for us. I called him and six minutes we made a deal. What I said to him was we have a lot of young people; our creative young graduates who has got the skills but are unemployed.’’
Philda Kereng who was speaking about Government efforts to build wildlife filming added: ‘’ Then I said can you help us build them so they reach the level of Hollywood so they can make films and feature in the global films bringing the Botswana story out there.’’
Kereng further reiterated that she told Smith that Botswana’s tourism policy promotes the use of local creative sector in marketing Botswana as a destination. ‘’ we need investment in skilling our creatives to profile our heritage, culture, capturing our content.
Kereng said in response Smith wanted to know if Botswana has a filming school that he can adopt, work with local creatives’ and take students from that school to Hollywood adding there could also come to Botswana to film.
Said Kereng: ‘I said to Smith we can give you the best landscapes for you to come and record your music videos or film. I imagine having a set on top of the Kalahari Sand Dunes with sunset on the background or by the Chobe River among the sunset cruise and wildlife or stargazing in Makgadikgadi. He was amazed.
The Minister explained that the role of the investment summit was not just to discuss about investment on tourism infrastructure but also investment in the skills and talents of young people so they contribute to the tourism sector.