WINDHOEK– Namibia’s tourism sector can still grow and contribute even more to the socio-economic development of the country, as areas of tourism such as gem tourism and peace tourism remain largely unexplored. This was the general consensus among the sponsors and supporters of the tourism sector during the launch of the Hospitality Association of Namibia’s (HAN) annual conference and gala.
The tourism/hospitality sector contributes 15% to Namibia’s gross domestic product (GDP), making it a major industry, albeit its potential has not been maximised.
As such, Standard Bank remains committed and excited to partner with HAN in bringing Namibian tourism into the limelight. “We are proud to be joining hands with HAN and other corporate stakeholders in their efforts to achieve Namibia’s true growth potential in the tourism industry. We recognise and appreciate the vital role of tourism in the Namibian economy,” Standard Bank’s head of business banking, Karen van der Merwe, said during the launch of the congress/gala.
She commended HAN for all its hard work, pointing out that organisation has become a pillar in the hospitality and tourism industry because they work towards influencing policymaking in Namibia, thereby optimising growth for the sector.
“We have long had a mutually beneficial relationship with HAN and believe that their activities and programmes will enhance their motto and theme for this year’s congress namely Meeting of Minds to Discover the Hidden Gems of Namibia. Standard Bank is pleased to be on board in making the annual congress of HAN a reality with our sponsorship of N$80,000 this year… It is important to ensure that through partnerships with associations such as HAN we demonstrate our commitment to enhancing this industry,” Van der Merwe stressed.
The HAN tourism awards gala/congress provides a platform where people, places and products, which are excelling in the sector, can be celebrated and honoured.
HAN’s CEO, Gitta Paetzold and HAN vice-chairperson Janet Wilson-Moore both commended the bank and other sponsors such as Namibia Breweries Limited (NBL), Air Namibia, Bannerman Resources and Marsh Namibia for their support, reiterating that tourism is everyone’s business as it benefits everyone.
“We want to find new things to give to our tourists. The generational changes among tourists mean that they are looking for more meaningful experiences and interactions with the community/environment around them… We want to be able to give new offerings and spread out the bookings into the off-peak season as there is a bottleneck,” Wilson-More said. She also pointed out that Namibia has been termed by many international operators and agents as being the best “sold-out destination”, as it seems to have become more difficult to secure forward bookings for the organised travel trade.
Yet reviews of actual occupancy at the end of the year make that notion quickly vanish.
Misconceptions such as those, including on gem tourism and peace tourism, to name a few, will be some of the issues that will be addressed by the think tank at the congress
The annual congress is scheduled to take place on June 21 and 22 in Swakopmund.