Namibia is once again shining on the world map, after the country was elected to the vice presidency of the General Assembly of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) for the promotion of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism.
Namibia was further elected as a member of the UNWTO committee on tourism and competiveness, along with Tunisia. The election comes at an opportune time when the country is in the final stages of developing its tourism growth strategy, said the Deputy Minister of Environment and Tourism, Tommy Nambahu, who attended the 21st UNWTO in Medellin, Colombia last month.
“It gives our country an opportunity to mainstream our sector into the global agenda and this selection puts Namibia on the forefront of decision-making in regards to tourism development in the world,” Nambahu proudly said.
Nambahu emphasised the need for a turnaround strategy to enhance the brand of Namibia, as most investors first arrive here as tourists.
“We are working on a code of ethics for tourism for communities to see that it is the sector that can help lift people out of poverty. We also want to protect tourists that come to our country, so that when they come here, we don’t put their lives in danger,” he said.
UNWTO delegates expressed an interest in hosting the World Tourism Day in Namibia in the near future. If Burkina Faso can host such a magnificent event, why not Namibia? a buoyant Nambahu asked. “We were equally enticed and everyone wants to come to Namibia. We will have to talk to our government and see if it’s possible,” he said.
Celebrated annually on September 27, World Tourism Day is the biggest international tourism event. Its purpose is to foster awareness of the importance of tourism and its social, cultural, political and economic value.
UNWTO is a leading international organisation which promotes tourism as a driver of economic growth, inclusive development and environmental sustainability and offers leadership, as well as support, to the sector in advancing tourism policies worldwide.
The general assembly is the highest organ of the UNWTO. Its ordinary sessions are held every two years and are attended by delegates of full and associate UNWTO member organisations and countries.
Nambahu said the UNWTO generates market knowledge, promotes competitive and sustainable tourism policies and instruments, and fosters tourism education and training, adding that it also works to make tourism an effective tool for development through technical assistance in over 100 countries.
The UNWTO’s membership includes 158 countries, six associate members and over 450 affiliate members, representing the private sector, educational institutions, tourism associations and local tourism authorities. Namibia has been a member of the UNWTO since its admission in 1997.