By Surihe Gaomas WINDHOEK A more appealing country brand name is the key to ensuring that Namibia remains an ideal tourist attraction for international visitors. According to the Namibia Tourism Board (NTB), the country’s core brand values are those viewed by visitors as “rugged, natural, soulful and liberating”. With its latest Namibia Brand Toolkit, NTB is currently hosting two branding workshops for various stakeholders on how best they can apply these brand values in order to make their communications more Namibian. Yesterday, over 100 representatives from tourism companies, advertising agencies, the public and the corporate sectors converged in the capital to see how best they can continuously sell Namibia as a tourist destination to the outside world. “Foreigners find Namibia to be something special. For them, it is an experience rather than a place,” said NTB’s Strategic Executive of Marketing and Research, Shareen Thude. It becomes increasingly visible that Namibia is fast becoming a favourite tourism spot, with the likes of famous American actors like Angelina Jolie and partner Brad Pitt who chose this country as the birthplace of their much-publicized baby. Thude said that the objective for all those in the tourism industry is to put Namibia on the (world) map, increase the sales, make all communications look Namibian and at the same time increase the sales of their product. “Our products must look Namibia in the brochures overseas and thus give it a Namibian personality,” she explained. Tourists from Germany, the United Kingdom and South Africa regard Namibia as the best rated in terms of its vast nature and undiscovered lands. “There is this personal relationship with the environment and people say they feel safe to be in Namibia where they don’t get hassled. Self-drive is also very possible here and there’s been a significant growth in this market as well,” said Thude. The onus is on all those involved in selling the country abroad to capitalize on branding their products, brochures and messages of communication to reap the benefits at the end of the day. “The answer lies in developing a strong clear and simple message that will help us stand out from the rest. A message that communicates the essence of Namibia and that differentiates Namibia clearly from our competitors,” she added. Other competitors are India, Botswana and China, which are still regarded as unexplored areas by foreign visitors. It becomes apparent that everyday, prospective visitors are bombarded by hundreds of different advertising messages. Yet the challenge is to cut through the clutter and grab their attention. A recent NTB study shows that Namibia is more likely to attract “the confident escapists rather than cautious socializers”, because of its rugged but accessible landscape, natural destination, soulful and liberating experience. The latest NTB branding workshop comes shortly after the high-level Tourism 2006 SADC-European Union Conference that got underway in the capital last week. At that prestigious event, over 300 delegates, investors and tourism enterprise representatives converged at a local resort to chart the way forward in growing this lucrative tourism industry in the region.