By Jana-Mari Smith
Tourism wise, the year 2013 has turned out to be one of the most important years for the Namibian tourism sector in terms of the world becoming increasingly aware of the country as an exciting tourism destination.
With big scale events taking place in Namibia this year, such as the United Nations COP-11 event, the International Water conference, and the highly anticipated Adventure Travel World Summit (the first to be held on the African continent) the spotlight shone on the country.
Today, the Hospitality Association of Namibia (HAN) launched the last of the year’s large tourism related events, namely the annual HAN event which will take place in two weeks time, on the 27th and 28th of November. The event includes the annual HAN Congress, the HAN Tourism Trade Forum (HTTF) and to cap it all of, an awards GALA where recognition is given to members of the Association. This year the Association is celebrating it’s 26th year of existance.
At the event today, several of HAN’s long term partners and sponsors, donated additional funds to HAN, in order to further their goals. The sponsors included Bannerman Resources, Standard Bank, Namibian Breweries and Marsh.
Standard Bank handed over N$65 000, Namibia Breweries – a major sponsor for the 2013 ATWS event, handed over an additional N$ 60 000. Despite economic challenges in the mining industry, Bannerman Resources sponsored N$25 000.
Rudie Putter, Genereal Manager of Kalahari Sands Hotel and Chairperson of HAN, said that looking back on 2013 it is evident that “we have had a watershed year”. He said this year was important in the way in which all stakeholders came together and realised that the only way to promote Namibia as a first choice destination, was to take “a holistic approach to show Namibia to the world”. He said that Namibia’s “true diversity, the richness of our product has been under-explained”.
The Congress, which will take place on Wednesday, the 27th, will take place according to the theme “Tourism, Translating Namibia to the world”. The focus at the congress will be to generate ideas around the way in which the tourism industry can market the country better. Gitta Paetzold, HAN CEO, explained that speakers at the event will look at how, following these numerous events and conferences, Namibia can position itself and how is Namibia seen now?