WINDHOEK - The Namibia Tourism Board and industry stakeholders on Tuesday convened at a local hotel to finalise a draft document during a consultative workshop that will in future regulate all tour guides and tour operators in the country.
After 10 years of compiling the draft document, NTB finally provided industry stakeholders, who will be affected by the proposed new regulations, with a platform to make a contribution before the proposed regulations are finalised. The meeting was convened under the theme “Symbol of quality tour guiding in the Land of the Brave.”
The Chief Executive officer of the Namibia Tourism Board, Digu //Naobeb, said regulating the industry is of vital importance, particularly because of strict consumer protection laws existing in the source market countries from where Namibia attracts its tourists.
“For Namibia this is particular of importance, since our source market is Europe, which has stringent EU travel tourism laws, particularly for packaged holidays. Therefore any given country should have standards or requirements, which operators in the tourism industry must adhere to and maintain,” he said. He said this imperative has become even more urgent and critical since one of targets of the just launched NDP4 is that Namibia should become a competitive tourism destination in Africa. However, that target can only be achieved through improved service delivery by trained and qualified staff; having standards that are benched marked against international best practices, and sensitizing the general population of the country to become accommodative and to adopt a more welcoming and receptive attitude towards visitors.
This call is not new at all and was first advocated by the former Minister of Environment and Tourism – the late Nico Bessinger, who called for the regulation of the sector saying tour guiding for example provides direct services to tourists and therefore need to be regulated in order to ensure that tourists receive only the best quality service. It was then that the NTB was tasked to draft regulations to be considered and approved by the minister before it became a law.
The estimated time for the implementation of the proposed new regulatory measures is the year 2014. This will provide ample time for the industry to adjust to the new environment in which they will be operating. Namibia has about 400 tour guides, but only 100 are registered. Once the new regulations are in place all tour guides operating in the country will be required by law to register before they can conduct any operations.
“This is in order to protect the industry against fly-by-night tour guides, including those from outside the borders of Namibia who come to conduct tours within the communities at the expense of local qualified guides,” he said.