By Fifi Rhodes WINDHOEK Steering away from traditional speeches and processions, the Association of Namibian Travel Agents (ANTA) hosted its annual workshop recently in Windhoek. The gathering, coupled with an exhibition, encouraged interactive debate and dialogue among industry leaders and those who can shape the future of travel and tourism. “Creativity, innovation and energy are driving forward the toursim industry in a complex and rapidly changing world. Businesses and destinations that are open to a new mindset, embracing a long term view of success, are those that will lead the industry in the future,” said Heike Schultz, the chairperson of ANTA. Questions that were asked focused on the physical and mental barriers that still need to be overcome to ensure the growth of travel and tourism in the long term. And how can the industry tap into this growth so that the vast opportunities offered by the industry are opened up to all? Thirty different outbound tour operators, airlines, car rental companies and travel insurance companies have presented their products at this workshop and over 80 travel consultants from all over Namibia have attended it. The workshop is being used for training industry member consultants, in order to develop their skills and to upgrade professionalism in the industry thereby ensuring that Namibian travel management companies keep abreast with international trends and standards. During the course of the year the association intends to invite international accredited lecturers to Namibia. As a small industry with only 16 members, funds collected are also being used to send the chairperson to attend meetings of the Association of South African Travel Agents. “The travel industry, like every other industry in the world, is in a state of constant change. “With more routes, destinations and more choices than ever before, just planning and putting a travel trip together can be quite daunting,” says Schultz of Rennies Travel, who is also the chairperson of ANTA. “Knowing you have an ANTA accredited travel agent taking care of all the details – the flights, destinations, routes, fares, transfers, car hire, accommodation, visas and forex (the list is endless), makes a great deal of sense, and allows you to get the best possible value for your money,” she explains.