In the wake of Fourteen Brave WarriorsSeptember 26, 2016
SWA Safaris NamibiaSeptember 28, 2016
Compiled Sanet van Zijl | Main photo ©Tony Fugueira
27 September marks World Tourism Day. The purpose of this annual celebration is to foster awareness among the international community on the importance of tourism and its social, cultural, political and economic value.
In celebration of WTD, tourism delegates gathered at the Namibia Tourism Board for a brainstorming session and update on the state of tourism in Namibia.
The theme for WTD this year is “Tourism for all”. FENATA (The Federation of Namibian Tourism Associations) made the opening statement. It was stressed that Namibia needs to work on the necessary infrastructure to make tourism accessible to everyone in the country.
Air Namibia, our national airline, is introducing new routes and more planes are coming into Namibia bringing tourists to the country, so we are on the right track at present. Namibia is considered one of the safest travel destinations in the world, making it essential to increase traffic to the country. Tourism has the potential to become one of the best ways of alleviating poverty and giving people access to a better life.
Skills development in the workforce is lacking, however, as more people need to be trained to work in the tourism industry and we do not have the necessary facilities for training. We need to find a balance between luxury lodges and affordable middle class lodges. Our road infrastructure and accessibility needs attention. We need to look at road maintenance and upgrading existing roads. New road options are already being explored.
ETEA (Emerging Tourism Enterprises Association) elaborated on this topic by stating that tourism creates job opportunities and plays a vital role in the industry. ETEA was started to promote domestic and regional tourism in 2007 and now has 70 registered members, including tour operators, tour facilitators, crafts people and more. It is important to note that tourism can take someone without an education and give them a well-paying job and purpose in life.
NTB (Namibia Tourism Board) assured that their mandate is to make sure tourism facilities in Namibia are up to standard and that they now focus on digital marketing. Why digital marketing? Because 80% of traveling plans are made online. Individuals in tourism are to make sure that what is put out represents Namibia as is, as people come to experience what they see online.
The theme of “Tourism for all” means that the focus should be universal access to tourism. Social media has revolutionized the internet and business, reaching many people at little cost.
Deputy Minister of Tourism Honorable Tommy Nambahu stated in his message that “Tourism for all” is about creating environments that cater to everyone’s needs, young and old. Accessibility is a human right and a great marketing opportunity.
We should ensure that the tourism sector does not discriminate against any human being. Establishments need to be made more accessible. He further stated that it is not due to affordability that Namibians do not travel within the country, but rather because of accessibility issues. Domestic tourism needs to become the backbone of the tourism sector. Tourism is one of the pillars of economic growth and poverty alleviation.
MET has developed soon to be launched strategy documents that are aimed at rural development and outlines key areas that need attention. Communal conservancies have continued to be the most successful system of revenue generation and has become the key source of income, replacing trophy hunting.
He called upon the people of Namibia to do more and get involved in tourism, asking the private sector to invest in conservancies. We need to serve each other and our visitors better. Tourism is everyone’s business.