Skills Deficit Stunts Tourism Growth

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By Petronella Sibeene WINDHOEK Lack of skilled people in the tourism industry remains a factor stunting economic growth in this important sector. Some sixteen years after the country’s independence, the number of skilled people is not enough for the market. The Director of Uris Safari Lodge, Marinda Pretorius, during the Namibia Tourism Expo 2006 told New Era that despite great strides made in the industry, a lack of skilled personnel is one area that has to be looked into. Though there are some institutions around the country offering services that could be needed in the industry, the graduates are not mature enough to work competitively in the market. ‘The number of people available is not enough. Even those whom you might think are qualified turn out that their skills are not on par with what is required,” Pretorius stated. She said: “You have to train over and over and once they get trained, they move to other businesses especially that the tourism industry is dynamic.” Pretorius indicated that as a Namibian interested in empowering fellow citizens, particularly those within the area where she is operating, it is difficult to find people in the local community to employ due to lack of skills. She urged the overseer of the industry to consider encouraging young people to get training in this field for the benefit of the industry. With its main objective being to create awareness about the importance of the tourism sector, the Namibia Tourism Expo 2006 has according to Pretorius been impressive. “We are happy with the number of people who have come to support us. Every year, the number is getting better and bigger.” The director, who has also participated at international expos such as the Indaba of Durban, appealed to organizers of the expo to make transport provisions especially for exhibitors accommodated at places far from the show grounds. Following the Deputy Minister of Environment and Tourism Leon Jooste’s call for Namibians to tour their own country, Pretorius says incentives have always been in place to encourage Namibians to explore what the country has to offer in terms of tourism. The Namibia Tourism Expo 2006 concluded over the weekend.