SWAKOPMUND – Namibians exhibiting their products at the current 2013 Adventure Travel World Summit (ATWS) said they are happy so far with the goings-on at the summit, which is allow them to gain much-needed exposure of their products. The four-day summit started on Monday.
Speaking to New Era yesterday at the coastal town of Swakopmund that is hosting the historic summit at the Namibian Pavilion, one of the exhibitors Amber Natt from the Natural Resources Institute in Windhoek said although the pace of the summit was slow on Tuesday it significantly changed for the better on Wednesday.
“There is so much we are taking in from the summit and I’m sure that we can tremendously benefit in the long run from the summit. People are taking a keen interest in Namibian products and the country as a whole and this is something that we can definitely capitalise on,” she enthused.
The Minister of Environment and Tourism Uahekua Herunga also visited the Namibian Pavilion where he sampled various products from exhibitors.
ATWS participants were yesterday treated to a true Namibian braai. Close to 1 000 delegates among them local and international adventure enthusiasts are attending the summit that has also attracted various exhibitors and cultural groups. The summit will be open to the public today.
The opening of the summit was held last week Saturday in Windhoek where it was officially opened by President Hifikepunye Pohamba at Parliament Gardens. The summit then moved to Swakopmund for the rest of the proceedings and delegates were treated to a dinner in the desert in Dorob National Park. The dinner was hosted at the amphitheatre in the Pajero Canyon – a 45-minute drive from Swakopmund. The occasion served as a welcoming gesture to the summit at the coast that concludes today at a Swakopmund hotel.
Speaking at the opening, the Minister of Environment and Tourism Uahekua Herunga said through innovative approaches and embracing communities and conservancies, his ministry together with non-governmental organisations successfully put 44 per cent of the country’s landmass under some sort of conservation management.
Meanwhile, Nampa reported the conservation and sustainable utilisation of natural resources is very important for Namibia, including trophy-hunting and the harvesting of wildlife.
It quoted the Minister of Foreign Affairs Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, who is also a former minister of environment and tourism as having told the ATWS: “We cannot remain without trophy-hunting. Based on the Namibian constitution, we are a nation committed to conservation. Unfortunately, you find some people, when we talk about harvesting, they think we are destroying our wildlife. That is not the case.”
She then pointed to statistics on elephant populations, which shows the pachyderms grew from 7 500 in 1996 to the current 16 000. Nandi-Ndaitwah said when people feel threatened, they have to protect themselves.
In monitoring wildlife, communities in conservancies can thus determine their movements and then plan the harvesting of such animals.
For conservation success, conservancies and national parks in the country implemented a book-monitoring system to keep an eye on wildlife populations.
Nandi-Ndaitwah boasted that Namibia is a leader in this regard, with many countries in Africa, Asia and the Americas having followed suit.
Namibia is also one of Africa’s success stories in the recovering of her wildlife species, is the cheetah capital of the world and a country known for protecting rhinos.
It is also the only country in Africa which trans-locates black rhinos out of national parks to communal areas.
The number of black-faced Impala has also increased over the years.
The minister, however, raised the concern that some countries, especially the United States of America (USA), do not allow trophies of the black-faced impala species to enter that country.
“I will continue to fight with them in my capacity as Foreign Affairs Minister to allow trophies from this species to enter their country. If we do not harvest, how are we going to live? The sustainable utilisation of natural resources is only meaningful when people are benefitting,” she noted.
Nandi-Ndaitwah was amongst a number of Namibian speakers who gave an insight into conservation, community development and tourism.
By Eveline de Klerk