Conservation Tourism is the Way to Go

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By Francis Mukuzunga WINDHOEK Conservation Tourism is the way to go for Namibian nationals particularly if they want to fully participate and enjoy the benefits that accumulate as a result of their investment. President Hifikepunye Pohamba said this yesterday in a keynote speech delivered on his behalf by the deputy Prime Minister, Dr Libertina Amathila, at the opening of the SADC-EU Investment Conference on Tourism in Windhoek. The Government of Namibia has legislated the conservancies as potential income generators particularly for the rural folk so that they can own and derive a livelihood from their own natural resources, while at the same time looking after them. In any given conservancy, communities form a board that oversees the proper utilization and earnings from these projects so that every member can benefit. “In Namibia, the tourism industry is capable of, among other things, contributing to wildlife conservation and biodiversity protection; contributing to poverty alleviation, particularly in rural areas,” he said. He told the delegates, drawn from the SADC countries, that a total of 31 conservancies were registered across the country last year, indicating an increase of more than 50 percent from the previous years. “An additional 12 registrations are still pending. Approximately 40ÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ 000 adults are currently registered as conservancy members,” President Pohamba said. The conservancy programme had shown positive results, he said, judging by the high level of pubic interest, recovery of wildlife populations and revenues earned from its activities. In 2004, revenues generated by the conservancies were more than N$15 million, up by 27 percent from the previous year. The number of tourists visiting community-based tourism enterprises is expected to increase threefold this year to 90ÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ 000, up from 30ÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ 000 in 1999. He also urged all potential investors to look into this form of tourism so that they may be able to assist rural communities while deriving long-term benefits from these projects.