Expected to Boost Tourism to South By Surihe Gaomas AUS The face of tou-rism is set to change drastically in the south with the envisaged re-opening of the Sendelingsdrift border post. The reopening of the border post will cost over N$1 million and is slated for May or June next year. The border post is situated some 20 kilometers from Rosh Pinah. There are four border posts between Namibia and South Africa – Noordoewer, Ariamsvlei, Mata Mata and Sendelingsdrift border post. Once operational, the border post will boost tourism especially to the national parks of Ai-Ais and Sperrgebiet in the deep south. In an exclusive interview with New Era last Friday, Minister of Environment and Tourism, Willem Konjore, confirmed the latest development. He said the border post would develop the “untapped, unnoticed and almost forgotten” cultural tourism of the south. “For a long time now, Namibian people have forgotten about the south and its potential. It is up to us in the south to prove that wrong. Firstly, the landscape is rich and untapped, it has a rich history and with cultural tourism, the south offers a diverse mixture,” said Konjore. The reopening of the border post is being funded by three mining companies – Skorpion Zinc, Rosh Pinah Zinc and Namdeb to the tune of N$1 million. Besides the border opening, various stakeholders from both the private and public sectors in the south are looking at ways of establishing several service stations, coffee shops, information centres and bed-and-breakfast accommodations for tourists that travel through this regional route. With the recent opening of the Warmbad Community Lodge by President Hifikepunye Pohamba last Wednesday and the launch of the Aus Information Tourism Centre, plans are underway to put the south on the tourism map by raising awareness about its tourism features through a string information drives. Despite the vast rich tourism potential of the south, only 25 percent of all tourists visiting Namibia come down to the far south. According to Governor of the Karas Region, David Boois, this is perhaps because “hardly any information is available on the existing possibilities in the south, let alone information centres”. Boois says to increase the flow of travellers, the south needs to continue to make itself more attractive, among other things with more information centres like the one in Aus. “To make these information centres sustainable, we must add value-adding products such as service stations, nurseries, coffee shops, souvenir shops and the likes. These initiatives will make (places like) Aus attractive such that visitors will no longer rush through but have a reason to stay in the south,” said Boois. As possible locations he mentioned the Quiver Tree Forest north of Keetmanshoop, the Fish River Canyon and Noordoewer. Recently, the Karas Regional Counicl availed copies of an informative CD, DVD and booklet about the Karas Region to the general public and institiutions in the area. Mannfred Goldbeck of Nature Investments and Gondwana Desert Collection said the opening of the Aus Information Tourist Centre is just a glimpse of more to come in the entire region. “It is going to be a network of centres in southern Namibia for tourists, the community and entrepreneurs alike. It is being done this way to keep people longer in the south. There’s also the 4×4 desert route development that is coming soon,” explained Goldbeck. In the next five to ten years, there will be alot more than a dozen of these tourist information centres. By the looks of things, mining companies have entered into a meaningful partnership with the tourism sector in the area. Most of the mines have a 12 to 15-year lifespan hence mining authorities here feel they need to plough back into the area by re-investing their profits. Signs are that the Karas Region is growing economically and plans are afoot to set up a cement factory that would focus on cement deposits in limestone. For the dry south, availability of water is a challenge. Towns like Aus, Grunau and LÃƒÆ’Ã†’Ãƒâ€ ‘ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Â ‘ÃƒÆ’Ã†”Ã…Â¡ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â¼deritz are feeling the pinch. So how can tourism be realised with the water challenge? That is the question some residents are asking. The answer is that local authorities and potential investors are looking into alternative means like desalination of the sea water, construction of two more dams in the areas of Aus and LÃƒÆ’Ã†’Ãƒâ€ ‘ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Â ‘ÃƒÆ’Ã†”Ã…Â¡ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â¼deritz and strong water preservation measures. Currently, NamWater and the Karas Regional Council are exploring the possibility of bringing water to Grunau and Aus.
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