By Kae Matundu-Tjiparuro One cannot but be extremely alarmed by the ambush and attack on a German couple and working tourists and the cold-blooded shooting and killing of one of the spouse and the eventual hijacking of their car in Namibia on the outskirts of Windhoek on Sunday. The incident touches the very heart and nerve of our tourism potential, especially in view of the fact that the victim, Mr Johannes Fellinger, was a professional photographer and his work is of particular essence, relevance and immediacy in enhancing Namibia’s tourism potential in particular, and elevating the country’s profile in general. But this is not all there is to it. The incident comes at a time when our tourism industry was starting to pick itself up following that unfortunate incident when a French family was shot at on the Bagani highway a few years ago. As those in the tourism industry would testify, the industry is highly sensitive to crime and the shooting and killing of a visitor from one of our prime tourist-producing countries, if not the most prime, is not an ordinary crime but an attempt at sabotage of the very industry that is quickly becoming one of the country’s important foreign exchange earners. That’s how serious the matter is. The results of the Tourism Satellite Accounting (TSA), which were released last year, have shown Namibia as the 13th fastest-growing country in the world in terms of Travel and Tourism Total Demand. The damage may already have been afflicted. However, as already pointed out, the tourism industry does not want to hear any crime however petty they may be or appear to be. But the killing of tourists and a guest of this country is insanity to say the least. That is why the Government must revisit such isolated incidences seriously with the intent to stamp out their recurrence. The Bagani saga has already undone years of gainful hard work, especially in the travel and tourism industry. The clock may have been swung back ten or 20 years. How long and how much it is going to take the industry, and the country as a whole to undo the doings of the Bagani saga, heaven’s knows. Not very long thereafter, we were befallen by yet another saga of which the consequences can be direr in view of Germany as our prime source of tourists. There may be underlying factors for such heinous acts but the acts per se are by no means whatsoever understandable or tolerable. While at the same time, we endeavour to address the underlying factors, one thereof of course which is an economic one, the security of our visitors in particular, and fellow citizens and residents in general, need some kind of assurance from the country’s security and safety agents. This includes improving the lot of our security officers whose conditions of employment leave much to be desired, even by more budgetary provisions. This is a matter that the country must close ranks about and both the private and public sectors are better advised to act in unison without delay. The public has as much a role to play. Meantime, those perpetrating such acts are only cutting their noses to spite their faces. Travel and tourism is one sector that is addressing the harsh economic conditions the country finds herself in, especially high unemployment. Hitting at tourists, who are our visitors and guests alike, whether in our private capacity as citizens or collectively as a country, is hitting partially at the very nerve that sustains Namibia’s economy, and by extension us.
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