Tourism Body in Money Squeeze

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By Wezi Tjaronda WINDHOEK The Namibia Community Based Tourism Association (Nacobta) is facing financial challenges since the end of agreements with its key donors in 2005. Some of these donors include USAID’s Corporate Agreement Number 12, SME Compete, DFID, and the Austrian Development Assistance. The funds that the organisation has at the moment are from LIFE Plus for the implementation of joint venture activities. This has led to the closure of the organisation’s North Central office, which was sanctioned by its members to safeguard the survival of Nacobta and also to improve the way the community organisation does its business. In a report to members of Nacobta at an Annual General Meeting this week, Chairperson Abiud Karongee said 2005 was full of challenges for the organisation, as the steady decline in donor funding made the continuation of Nacobta questionable. He told New Era yesterday that the closure of the northern office meant that the projects up north are not getting attention on time as they are now served from the headquarters, which is based in Windhoek. Another impact of the end of the donor agreements means that viable projects that people come up with cannot be financed due to lack of financial resources, said Karongee. “There are lots of people who have viable projects but due to lack of funding we cannot respond in time or we do not respond at all as there are no finances,” he added. Most of these agreements came to an end almost at the same time, some two years ago. The Finnish Embassy however availed funds last year for Nacobta to use for certain activities during the transformation process. As opposed to soliciting funds generally, Nacobta will now be looking for funds for specific activities. Karongee also said the organisation has developed and submitted proposals to various donors for funding and is awaiting outcomes. Despite the hardships, Nacobta completed the development of five conservancy tourism plans of Huab, Purros, Anabeb, Sesfontien and Otjimboyo. These plans, reported Karongee, form part of the integrated land use plans that are essential tools for planning tourism activities. The conservancy tourism option plans came about as a recommendation from the generic North West tourism option plans. Last year saw additional nine members joining Nacobta, which brought the membership to 72. The number comprises Ombalantu Boabab, Vicky’s Coffee Shop, African desk, Aabadi Bush Camp, Omauni Community Campsite and LÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚¼deritz tour guides as full members and Mbaba Campsite, Hoanib Information centre as provisional members. Nacobta also gave small grants to //Goabaca, Granietkop, Nakambale museum and Ombalantu Boabab for the construction and upgrading of their enterprises. Speaking at the meeting, Environment and Tourism Minister, Willem Konjore noted that Nacobta’s activities were steadily gaining momentum, and would significantly help the government to achieve the goal of the Vision 2030,the National Development Plans and the Millennium Development goals. Konjore also said the country’s cultural heritage needs to be conserved and branded as a unique product due to the fact that international and domestic visitors are increasingly in search of an authentic cultural experience with indigenous people. With the help of Nacobta, added the minister, tourism related activities would highlight Namibia’s cultural diversity and develop its treasures.