Windhoek-Namibia has managed to grow her tourism arrivals to 1.4 million people despite the challenges of Ebola, foreign currency fluctuations and the world economic crisis. This week the country is expected to witness an additional airline servicing the route between Europe and Windhoek. The airline, Eurowings, would add to three other major international airlines that have added Namibia’s Hosea Kutako International Airport to their international destinations list.
According to the Minister of Environment and Tourism, Pohamba Shifeta, these are all indications that the tourism sector has grown from a mere 220,000 tourist arrivals at the country’s independence in 1990, to more than 1.4 million arrivals as of 2015.
“We as the country should not miss this opportunity to use tourism, a labour-intensive export sector, which has the ability to create jobs and earnings, to contribute to the economic transformation of our rural economies through its multiplier effect,” Shifeta stressed.
He nevertheless said the resources that the state can devote to supporting tourism would continue to be constrained into the future, as the government is determined to maintain strong budgetary discipline.
“We will focus on making sure that the funding, the people and the structures we have are efficient and effective and generate the best possible returns,” he noted.
He stated the government has established the Namibian Tourism Board (NTB) to do generic marketing and at the same time carry out regulatory functions over the tourism industry.
However, he said the government has faced challenges in carrying out these mandates and the time has come to be focused.
“Have we been truly effective in our marketing strategy? How have we faired with domestic tourism? Have we been efficient in collecting the levies? Do we have the people with the appropriate and relevant skills, knowledge and understanding to transform marketing in Namibia? Is our structure as it is currently responding to our functions? Is the budget adequate? All in all, are we competitive? Is the name of our national marketing agency still appropriate and relevant?” Shifeta questioned.
One challenge, he mentioned, is to reflect on ensuring that future growth is sustainable and that Namibia captures its share of the global and regional market.
Therefore, he said, the government must also identify opportunities and target its resources at those areas that have the greatest potential.
To achieve this, he says, calls for government to relook the overall architecture of tourism hence the reason for having developed the National Tourism Growth and Development Strategy.
He added this includes the functions carried out by the NTB as well as the overall focus across government on the distribution of resources and possible efficiencies. Shifeta said NTB must review its structures, functions, mandates and operations