Omaheke Explores Tourism Potential

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By Wezi Tjaronda WINDHOEK Despite the fact that the Omaheke region has potential for tourism development, the support to the sector from donors, civil society and the government is said to have been lacking. It is believed that people have had wrong perceptions that the region, popularly known as the cattle country, is only involved in the production of livestock. Said Dr Rukee Tjingaete, a specialist in the field of tourism and development in the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, “During the apartheid era, most game that stocked commercial farms and game parks came from the Omaheke region.” To change the situation, however, a high level delegation comprising of officials from the ministry of environment and tourism, non-governmental organisations, donors and the Omaheke regional council officials are on a fact-finding mission on conservancy and tourism development in the region. On Wednesday, the officials held a meeting in Gobabis during which a forum, comprising of NGOs, regional council members and others was established to lead the conservancy development programme and promote tourism. Tjingaete said the forum would be reconstituted into a steering committee, which will be formalised within two weeks at a meeting that the Omaheke Regional Governor, Laura McLeod will call. After the establishment of the steering committee, terms of reference will be developed and then consultants will be appointed to work on the project. The initiative, according to Tjingaete is not a single project but a means of soliciting funding for ideas that have been developed and not yet implemented. Among projects to be undertaken is a proposed conservancy called Omuramba Uambinda and a campsite in the Eiseb Block in the Otjombinde constituency. Eiseb and Otjombinde are some of the areas where the finest game such as eland, oryx, lions, buffaloes and others were found. “We want to restock the wildlife that was stolen by the Apartheid South African regime,” he added. “The proposed conservancy is not far from Botswana, from where wildlife crosses into the area. “The Botswana side, being a prime tourism area, necessitates the establishment of new tourism routes with Botswana from Tsumkwe through the Okavango Delta and which can be linked to the Trans Kalahari Highway. The Omaheke region does not have a single conservancy, a concept under the Community Based Natural Resource Management Programme (CBNRM). With the advent of conservancies, communities conserve natural resources under them and also derive benefits from them through activities such as trophy hunting, campsites and crafts among many others. “There are so many opportunities for tourism development and the need to develop new tourism routes,” he added. Today, the delegation is expected to visit community projects such as schools, farming and San projects before proceeding to Eiseb Block to view the project site for the campsite. “We want to see if the place is viable for the campsite,” said Tjingaete.