Monday, 31 October 2016
NAMIBIA: Developing Rural Tourism
Rural tourism ventures in Namibia have welcomed the government's strategy geared towards transforming the tourism industry.
Set in a far-flung village in northern Namibia, Helena Shitemba, who has been weaving baskets out of palm tree leaves from home since 2013, said how she is hoping to benefit from the nation's tourism development plan.
Like fellow women in the northern Oshikoto region, the prime target buyers for her woven baskets are tourists and locals seeking to buy traditional products, gifts and souvenirs unique to Namibia.
Apart from direct sales, she uses various platforms to sell her products. “In addition to selling to some shops, I also participate in exhibitions and various trade fairs to promote my products,” she said. Although she has established a good chain of clients, a boost to the tourism-oriented business ventures championed by the government could help reform her business into a lucrative trade.
“My hope is that the government gives a lending hand to rural enterprises, especially those that rely on tourists for income generation,” she said.
Namibia's Ministry of Environment and Tourism launched a national strategy on tourism, which aims to transform Namibia into a competitive tourism destination regionally and globally.
According to Pohamba Shifeta, Minister of Environment and Tourism, the strategy will turn the local tourism sector into a world class industry over the next 10 years.
This, according to the minister, will be achieved through support programmes for emerging entrepreneurs in the sector, economic empowerment of enterprises and their partners, support to communal conservancies and development of rural tourism.
The minister said that if the current efforts of developing tourism products in a sustainable manner are strengthened, tourism will be a key catalyst for growth and national development across all sectors.
“Key strategic interventions include building top class facilities and land has already been acquired for the construction of such facilities,” according to Shifeta.
In the meantime, minister Shifeta also indicated that the ministry has crafted a National Sustainable Tourism Growth and Investment Promotion Strategy, focusing on opportunities in the tourism industry to be implemented by the Ministry of Trade, Industrialisation and SME Development.
Meanwhile, Namibia Tourism Board chief executive officer Digu Naobeb also welcomed the strategy, saying that it is timely. “The time is now for the regional council to make concerted efforts in supporting local tourism, through marketing and creating awareness about services and ventures in their regions to lucratively market their regions as potential destinations,” said Naobeb. Namibia's tourism sector is the third largest contributor to the country's economy. Like many traders in rural areas, Shitemba hopes that the efforts will be inclusive and address their needs.
“I hope my trade is one of the many components of rural tourism that will be positively impacted by the implementations of this strategy, as assistance from the government can go a long way,” said Shitemba.