By Bongiwe Zwane-Maseko
Local accommodation facilities are already impressively booked for this year’s MTN Bushfire Festival, which is slated for 26- 28 May. Some establishments received bookings soon after the festival ended last year.
Most facilities along the Mbabane-Manzini corridor confirmed that were receiving bookings at a very high rate, following the release of the Festival dates. The MTN Bushfire Festival, which is rendering its 16th edition this year, is one of Africa’s most celebrated music and arts festivals.
This family-friendly event attracts people from over 60 countries and welcomes over 30 000 festival admissions. Tickets have sold out in advance for eight years running and accommodation for this event is highly sought-after.
Some establishments confirmed that the Festival was a money-spinner since they record full bookings, without fail. A manager at one of the leading hotels in Ezulwini said they were 80 per cent booked for the Festival, noting that she was sure they would reach full capacity by the end of January.
“We have had inquiries from across the globe. We recently renovated and upgraded our facility so guests can expect an amazing experience while visiting the kingdom. Our rooms are of world-class standards,” she said.
She encouraged those who still have not confirmed their bookings to do so soon as an unpaid booking does not mean anything, adding that only deposits can secure space.
The Creative Director of the Festival Jiggs Thorne said this is good news and a very positive sign for the country’s tourism.
“We have a high percentage of repeat attendees, people who enjoyed the MTN Bushfire experience so much that they book their accommodation for the next year as they are leaving the festival. Accommodation is always tight during the MTN Bushfire weekend. It is common for the majority of accommodation options in Eswatini to be fully booked for the MTN Bushfire weekend within a month of the next year’s date being announced, which we do at the end of every festival,” he said.
He added that apart from the glamping (glamour-camping) and camping tents they make available onsite, MTN Bushfire actively supports and promotes as many local accommodation options as they can.
“One can find a list of places on our website: https://www.bush-fire.com/plan/off-site-accomodation/. We are always happy to add more places to the list as long as they have a website or social media space for guests to visit. For more details, they can contact email@example.com for further information on being listed,” he said.
The Secretary of the Hospitality and Tourism Association of Eswatini (HOTAES) Tegan Ward said there are many wonderful venues to choose from when it comes to accommodation within Eswatini, depending on one’s wants and needs, adding that for accommodation the Bushfire website provides a comprehensive listing of establishments available.
“If you already have your ticket for the festival book as soon as you can, as many people in previous years have booked for the next year before even departing the current festival. You should also consider extending your trip to either side of the festival to take in the wonderful sights and experiences of Eswatini,” she said.
Trader applications are already open for the festival’s Global Food Village, Barn Marketplace, and KidZone. Opportunities for experiential services and in-festival marketing activations are also available. In line with the festival’s #BRINGYOURFIRE mandate to collectively enact positive social and environmental change, MTN Bushfire’s trader policies are inclusive, small business-focused, and promote fair trade. Preference is given to vendors with high-quality products who have a sustainability focus and source their produce locally.
Winner of the “Best Responsible Event” at the WTM Africa Responsible Tourism Awards in 2017, MTN Bushfire is passionately committed to environmentally sustainable policies and practices, throughout the product value chain, as expressed through the #GREENYOURFIRE mandate.
By Bongiwe Zwane-Maseko