Text Marita van Rooyen
While summer is the season for sun, sand and sea, it’s also the perfect time to reconnect with your roots, refine your taste for culture, and interact with your local community.
Coastal cultural operator, Heinrich Hafeni of Hafeni Tours and Travel, shares his wisdom and tips for making the most of visiting the township, which is, needless to say, the best starting point for communicating with locals.
“I believe your name will lead you to your destiny. Heinrich Hafeni is my name. Hafeni means joy or happiness in my language (Oshiwambo), and for me, tourism is all about making others happy and giving visitors the best Namibian experience possible. But that’s not where it stops. Making tourists happy should go hand in hand with supporting the community, the people on the ground.
Namibia is a top cultural destination. We need more cultural centres in major towns – one-stop shops that promote culture for all. We need a government drive for tourism with a focus on grassroots-level entrepreneurs in communities. Community tourism should be the future of the Namibian tourism sector.”
Cultural highlights of the coastal communities
Who is Heinrich?
Heinrich Hafeni was born and bread in Mondesa, where he still lives. “Mondesa is my playground,” he says with pride. He believes that cultural tourism, when practised wisely, can help eradicate social evils. “But,” he adds, “tourism is a complex industry that entails supporting the locals.” He encourages youngsters to start their own tourism businesses, and involves locals from the community in guiding and training. “While tourism is a tough industry, it offers many options for aspiring entrepreneurs to start from their own backyards without too much effort and expense.”
Backed by a history in the hospitality and tourism sector, Heinrich founded Hafeni Tours and Travel in 2010. In 2011 he expanded his knowledge with a course in Entrepreneurship and New Venture Creation at WITS University in South Africa.
Future plans include expanding his cultural activities with a trip to the Topnaars and creating affordable cultural tours for Namibians. He is currently working on a one-stop tourism shop for Swakopmund. “When you have passion you can do anything. But there is a great need for supporting emerging tourism entrepreneurs.”
Heinrich is also vice-chairman of the Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Swakopmund, and is a self-confessed community leader. “A community leader is someone who helps others to prosper. Remember, to achieve anything, you first have to believe in yourself, and in the greatness you as an individual are capable of achieving.”
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