Lack of access to finance hampers tourism – Shifeta

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Staying the course… Minister of Environment and Tourism Pohamba Shifeta yesterday addressed the first African Drought Conference in Windhoek, which brings together several hundred experts and delegates from across the continent.

Clemans Miyanicwe

Khorixas-The Minister of Environment and Tourism, Pohamba Shifeta, says one of the main barriers to enter the Namibian tourism sector is lack of access to financial resources.

Speaking at the belated celebration of Environment Day recently, Pohamba noted: “There are opportunities for small and medium enterprises to engage in tourism-related activities such as craft production, running campsites, guest houses, bed-and-breakfasts, cultural villages, joint venture lodges, trophy hunting and tour guides. However, my ministry is aware of many challenges faced by emerging tourism entrepreneurs. One of the main barriers to entering the Namibian tourism sector is the lack of access to financial resources for developing tourism products.”

More than 50 attendees at the accompanying meeting were told the environment ministry is investigating mechanisms to leverage funding for emerging tourism entrepreneurs and to unlock the geographic spread of benefits of tourism in rural Namibia and communal conservancies.

This strategic intervention forms part of the ministry’s National Sustainable Tourism Growth and Development Strategy covering the period 2016 to 2026.

On the theme connecting people to nature, Pohamba said: “We have to recognise the need to take this important message to our regions, starting today with Kunene. This is an appropriate occasion to recommit ourselves to sustainable development in all of our endeavours and to ensure our people can live a life of dignity in a clean and healthy environment.”

Pohamba said the environment ministry supports life on earth through the provision of goods and services essential for human well-being, and products from plants and trees serve as the foundation for modern medicine.

Participants at the meeting asked how many of them take time to take a walk in a natural setting to enjoy the fresh air, listen to birds singing and explore what nature has to offer. They were also encouraged to visit Namibia’s beautiful landscapes and enjoy its unique plant species.

Pohamba said the environment and its natural resources “are our heritage, a heritage we need to carefully maintain in order to pass on to the next generation”.

“The knowledge we possess has the potential to facilitate the transformation of resources into wealth through value-addition commercialization of our resources,” Pohamba added.
Pohamba said the ministry is working tirelessly to find amicable solutions to human-wildlife conflict and requested the public “to bear with us and work with us to find solutions to this complex and multifaceted problem”.

Pohamba also shed light on the Genetic Resources and Traditional Knowledge Act.
Junior national councillor Trudy !Hoaes called for the promotion of sustained, inclusive and sustainable  environmental growth. !Hoaes quoted the chairperson of the National Council, Margaret Mensah-Williams, as having said: ‘If not now. When? I mean most of our action plans are for a long run. What happens tomorrow? What’s the action plan for tomorrow? I asked my junior and senior colleagues.’

!Hoaes added that Namibians must not shy away from protecting the environment and take responsibility for it.

The special advisor of the Kunene governor for Kunene South John /Khamuseb, the head of the Ministry of Sport, Youth and National Service at Khorixas, Gideon Gurirab, the chairperson for Kunene Regional Youth Forum, Mogale Karimbue, Deputy Mayor of Khorixas, Emgard #Nauses, Khorixas Constituency Councillor Elias /Aro Xoagub, and the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry’s representative, Andrew Miles, also attended the commemoration.

Indigenous trees donated by the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry were planted at the office of the Ministry of Sport, Youth and National Service where the event was held.

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