By Wezi Tjaronda
The Federation of Namibian Tourism Associations (FENATA) has urged its members to rather focus on the long-term sustainability of the sector and not just on wins expected from the FIFA World Cup in 2010.
In its position paper on the WC 2010, the federation said project decisions around the event could hamper tourism development and lead to job losses and recession within the sector in the wake of the soccer event.
“The private sector encourages its members to improve service delivery, training and renovations as the market demands and not specifically in anticipation of a windfall due to 2010,” said FENATA President Martin Webb Bowen during a plenary to formulate Namibia’s marketing strategy for the event.
He warned FENATA members against taking out loans and overdrafts to use for expansion or to build new tourism facilities to cash in on profits expected in 2010.
“Taking out loans, extending overdrafts to expand and build new tourism facilities in anticipation of revenues and profits from 2010 are strongly discouraged unless the facility in question has specific contacts, confirmed bookings or other market intelligence on 2010,” he said.
More than 250 000 people are expected for the tournament and Namibia is vying to become the satellite venue for accommodation. If successful, the country will need additional service staff which could provide short-term injections of income for the unemployed.
It is also feared that accommodation facilities may want to profiteer and charge much more for their services. But Webb Bowen advised FENATA members not to price-gouge but rather charge the normal prices listed in the brochure period.
“The law of supply and demand will always rule the market,” he said, adding that price gouging would marginalize Namibia and “shut off access to displaying its products because people would not be able to stay in the country.”
He said tourism establishments should highlight desert products, cultural tourism, coast/desert products, the vastness and quietness of the country and the Fish River Canyon and other comparative advantage products on offer.
These unique products could provide Namibia with a niche market that would be attractive to specific groups.
Other groups that tourism establishments are advised to attract are the upper end of the mass tourists and South Africans who may become displaced and may want to leave their country for some quiet place.
The June 11 to July 11 period will be a school holiday in South Africa and Webb Bowen said establishments should direct their marketing efforts to attract South African families that “seek the quiet, safe and calm of Namibia as opposed to the rowdy, crowded WC areas”.
Meanwhile, FENATA has also urged government committees to move on attracting teams to use Namibia as a pre-2010 training venue. This, said Webb Bowen, will need a well versed and professional team to travel to potential World Cup participating countries with presentations on Namibia’s facilities to sell the country as a training location.
“We need to do this now, other SADC countries are already doing it,” he said.