The director for tourism and gaming in the Ministry of Environment and Tourism Sem Shikongo says there is a huge need for Namibian towns and cities to establish tourism dry ports that are well equipped with restrooms, restaurants and security for tourists travelling by road.
He said such services are currently only extended to visitors at airports using the air mode of travel, hence the need to encompass such services to road users as well.
Another issue is that Namibia has very limited public service transport for either domestic or foreign visitors, he added.
Therefore, Shikongo highlighted, it’s important that the transport master plan for Namibia takes into account the needs of the tourism sector in terms of road, air, rail and port access and other supporting infrastructure.
Currently, Namibia has many illegal loading zones, where local travellers and foreigners alike go through bad experiences when their luggage is often roughly handled by bus loading masters – in many cases resulting in their losing their belongings or incurring damage.
Several of the loading zones furthermore have no ablution facilities, resting or restaurant amenities.
These include the Monte Cristo loading zone for northern destinations, and the open area near Wernhil Park Mall for the north-east and neighbouring countries such as Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Other areas are Rhino Park service station for coastal destinations and the open space at the Single Quarters mainly for Angolan nationals en-route to Oshikango.
“The question is are there toilets, waiting rooms, schedules, restaurants and lockers if I come there, even at night, at those places? What if it rains? Tourists currently don’t know where to go if they want to travel to other towns because there is no central place. If you travel by plane, you know that you will go to Hosea Kutako or Eros airport, but if you are to travel by car, where do you go? Where is the information?” he queried.
He suggested that every town and city should look into creating tourism dry ports for visitors.
He said the idea is a national strategy that forms part of the National Sustainable Tourism Growth and Investment Promotion Strategy 2016-2026, adding that its implementation will create lots of jobs.
“The strategy was approved by Cabinet. So if there is someone out there with money to invest, they can approach the city and town or village councils to take up such projects. Or the city can say, no, we have the money we will do it ourselves,” Shikongo said.