Eveline de Klerk
SWAKOPMUND – The Minister of Environment and Tourism, Pohamba Shifeta is appalled over the increasing number of criminal activities targeting tourists that generate money for the country.
He said it is worrisome that tourists are targeted by criminals that are only out there to make a quick buck by robbing them.
Addressing the tourism and hospitality stakeholders last week at a two-day engagement in Swakopmund, he said these attacks tarnish and threaten the industry as well as Namibia’s international image.
“The significance of tourism in Namibia cannot be over emphasised due to its contribution towards job creation, poverty eradication and foreign income for the country and the sector. It is a sector that we want to nurture and grow, but how can we do that, if tourists are robbed as soon as they step in Namibia,” a worried Shifeta said.
He said this is not only a challenge for the tourism industry, but for government as well. Hence, he noted a tourism advisory council and an inter-ministerial committee were created to address the issue.
“These two organs will now see how we can address this challenge, as we take the safety of our visitors very serious. We are also working on a security agenda as a lot is at stake here,” Shifeta explained.
The environment and tourism minister expressed concern over the fact that these habitual criminals are easily released on bail by the courts, only to commit similar crimes while out on bail.
“Hence these two committees were setup to take a look at these challenges. The tourism industry is delicate and we cannot afford for it to be negatively impacted by criminal activities,” he said.
He added that Namibia has always been regarded as a safe travel destination with peaceful people, a reputation that has contributed to the growth of tourism in the country.