By Wezi Tjaronda
The City of Windhoek yesterday launched its Black Economic Empowerment Programme, to reverse economic imbalances among residents.
Developed two years ago, the programme empowers community members that have potential as tour guides, and managers of catering and bed and breakfast establishments, to assist them enter mainstream tourism industry, which many previously disadvantaged Namibians could not enter because of lack of skills.
The growth in the industry has led to increased demand by tourists for accommodation and dining in Katutura, which led to the pilot B&B and catering training course, initiated and implemented this year.
Yesterday, 10 tour guides, 10 caterers and six owners of B&Bs received certificates after undergoing training by the Namibia Academy for Tourism and Hospitality, Namibia Chefs Association and the B&B Association.
Minister of Environment and Tourism, Reverend Willem Konjore, handed over the certificates. One of the B&B establishments has already registered with the Namibian Tourism Board.
Konjore lauded the training as one of the most significant achievements of the city’s BEE programme in the tourism industry.
He said the hosting of the Fifa 2010 Soccer World Cup in South Africa and African Cup of Nations in Angola demanded that Namibia develop its infrastructure and improve policy formulation and implementation for people to benefit.
The events are an opportunity for Namibia to increase tourist spending, improve destinations, increase the length of stay of tourists and increase tourism volumes from both local and foreign markets.
This would also see an improvement in service delivery and transformation of the industry and make it inclusive of all people.
Tourism in Namibia is the fastest growing sector of the economy and if fully marketed, would create more jobs.
He said the collective desire of stakeholders in the industry should be to fast-track training for people to enable them to run tourism-related ventures more effectively and efficiently.
“This is as much a challenge for the Ministry of Environment Tourism as it is for the entire tourism industry to overcome. Failure in relation to skills shortage is not an option. Namibia needs a pool of skilled people from which tourism should benefit,” he said, adding that people were the greatest asset in the tourism industry.
“Our customer care has to be the best if we want to attract new and retain old customers,” he added.