By Francis Mukuzunga OTJIWARONGO Branding of Namibia as a preferred tourism destination seems to be moving in the right direction as companies in the sector take heed of the call to upgrade their facilities in line with the projected annual tourism growth rate of 7,9 percent in the next 10 years. The phenomenal projected growth is derived from data released by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) in September this year when Namibia attained a Tourism Satellite Account (TSA) status. According to the WTTC report, the travel and tourism industry accounts for 16 percent of the country’s total GDP. Additional data estimate that capital investment in tourism will amount to N$1.3 billion this year, keeping 70 000 jobs. “These forecasts paint a picture of growth. In reality though, predictions are likely to remain such unless meaningful efforts are made to develop Namibia’s tourism potential,” said Sven Thieme, Executive Chairman of the Ohlthaver & List Group during the official inauguration of the group’s Otjiwa Safari Lodge on Friday. Construction of the new accommodation facility of Otjiwa Safari Lodge was completed last year at a cost of N$3,5 million. The additional lodges will bring the total investment value of the facility to over N$20 million. Otjiwa Safari Lodge is situated some 30 km south-west of Otjiwarongo “The new investment has increased the replacement value of N$20 million. This is by any standard a significant improvement and a vote of confidence in Namibia’s tourism potential,” said Prime Minister Nahas Angula at the official launch. Angula was full of praise for the Ohlthaver & List Group for taking the initiative and suggested that the safari lodge be a lynchpin for branding Namibia as a special destination for premium tourism ventures. The trophy-hunting safari lodge, he said, is a true example of private-public sector partnerships to be supported by a new government policy currently under development. “I am happy to note that the Ministry of Environment and Tourism is hard at work to develop a viable policy for public-private partnership initiatives in the tourism sector. In my view this is a step in the right direction,” said Angula. Minister of Environment and Tourism, Willem Konjore, urged the Ohlthaver & List Group to cement partnerships with communities within their surroundings, particularly the rural folk so as to address the problem of urbanisation. Said Konjore: “I therefore wish to encourage the Ohlthaver & List Group of Companies and all other potential investors to explore every possible opportunity to make the tourism sector and its economic potential accessible to all Namibians, not only as tourists, but as partners and shareholders.” Otjiwa Safari Lodge is part of the group’s Namib Sun Hunting Safaris. The Ohlthaver & List Group has interests in other industries including chain stores, fisheries, food and beverages, ICT and the services sector.
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