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Since the Namibia Tourism Board, together with the Millennium Challenge Account Namibia (MCA-N) launched it’s destination marketing campaign four years ago, US and local travel operators have observed a drastic increase in sales from the north-Amercian market.
Digu //Naobeb, NTB’s CEO, said at an official handing over event yesterday, that a Namibian tour operator reported a 200% increase in North-American bookings since the campaign, which focused on penetrating the North-American market, was launched four years ago. Moreover, //Naobeb noted that last year the North American market was the only market that showed positive tourism growth.
The campaign forms part of the partnership between the MCA-N Tourism project and the NTB, as the implementing partner.
Dr Fanuel Demas, MCA-N Director of Tourism, said that from the get-go, the partnership between MCA-N and NTB, which involved N$50 million set aside for the tourism project, was focused on “aggressively” marketing Namibia as a top tourist destination. Namibia is the only MCA benefactor where tourism was chosen as a way to improve economic well-being, after the country’s tourism sector was identified as a positive growth sector.
Demas noted that one of the key objectives was to market Namibia as an eco-tourism destination, and to focus less on mass tourism. This formed the basis of the relationship between Namibia and MCA-N.
With the financial and technical support from the MCA-N, NTB was able to tick of several strategic marketing boxes in their efforts to boost awareness.
One of the strategies included creating a state of the art, interactive website, which was officially handed over to the NTB at the event yesterday.
The website was created with the idea of providing key information to prospective travelers, such as travel itineraries and routes, and to enable local tourist businesses to promote themselves online. The goal being to drive people to have “a hunger to come to Namibia”, Demas said.
In addition to the website, the MCA-N helped NTB to create and sustain various online media strategies, such as the use of Facebook and Twitter to target young Internet savvy audiences. Also, several online marketing competitions were launched. Namibia participated in North-American road shows and even managed to be a prime photo shoot location for the 2013 Sports Illustrated magazine.
The road shows and other initiatives have now put Namibia in the catalogues of numerous United States and Canada based travel agencies, Sikongo Haihambo, the Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Operations at the MCA-N said.
The website has been received exceptionally well, and hast received two awards to date – the ‘Best Website’ at the 2011 Tourism Indaba in South Africa, and a platinum Adrian Award for “best digital marketing” in the United States.
//Naobeb said that NTB has already recruited staff members who will ensure that the website and social media initiatives will be sustained, even after the MCA-N support programme ends next year.
Haihombo said that he is convinced the website “will be a powerful tool drawing attention to Namibia as the country where holiday dreams come true” for the foreseeable future.
At the event, NTB was also gifted with two brand-new vehicles, one a Toyota Landcruiser and a Chevrolet sedan to the combined value of N$650 000. Also, two desktop computers, two laptops, one printer and two projectors valued in total at N$46 000 were handed over to the NTB.
The website, which was created to the tune of N$8 million, was also officially handed over to NTB.