Exponential Growth for Namibian Tourism

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By Catherine Sasman WINDHOEK Two studies launched at the recent international tourism trade fair in Germany (ITB), suggest Namibia is emerging as one of the fastest-growing tourism destinations in the entire southern African region. According to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), Namibia tops the list in travel and tourism growth to the GDP at 8.1 percent and is closely followed by Zambia with growth of 7.4 percent while regional powerhouse South Africa came third with 4.8 percent. The country is also listed among the top ten travel and tourism industry growers in eighth position as its demand as a tourism destination grows. On the Travel and Tourism Competitive Index (TTCI), Namibia ranked 73rd out of 124 positions as a leading tourism area. This first-ever index explores the factors that drive the travel and tourism competitiveness globally. It encourages national governments to understand and improve the industry and create economic environs which will help grow entrepreneurship, jobs and careers. Digu //Naobeb, acting CEO of the Namibia Tourism Board (NTB), suggests that these findings are both encouraging and provide the country’s fledgling industry with an indication of the areas that need improvement. It’s positive overall ranking, said //Naobeb. This is due to the country’s open visa requirements, and its clear-cut policies on environmental protection and well-established infrastructure. On the safety and security score, the country also did well. What is of concern, though, is the country’s relatively poor use of the internet for business transactions (90th position), its air travel tax charges and high fuel charges. Worryingly, the country’s human resources in the travel and tour sector are ranked last (at 124th position). //Naobeb also reported that participation at the ITB had been better than the last four years. He said that awareness of the Namibia travel trade has similarly improved significantly. “The effects of our campaigns to promote Namibia as a tourism destination have borne fruit,” said //Naobeb, adding that Namibia has received great media attention while in Germany. The Brangelina factor, said //Naobeb, was an added bonus to the marketing of Namibia globally. “To have had a Hollywood couple of that magnitude have their baby delivered here, loudly proclaimed that we have a good infrastructure and that people do not need to fear this place.”