Branding Namibia: Solution to attracting its share of tourists
According to Thude a recent survey had identified that most international visitors saw Namibia as “rugged, natural, soulful and liberating”.
Introducing a Namibia Brand Toolkit consisting of a brochure called “Branding Namibia: a practical guide”, NTB was engaged in hosting workshops for various stakeholders in the industry on how best to apply these brand values discovered in order to harmonise thie awareness creation of the country and , at the same time, impart a distinctly Namibia flavour to the product.
“Foreigners find Namibia to be something special. For them, it is an experience rather than a place,” said NTB’s, Shareen Thude.
It becomes increasingly visible that Namibia was fast becoming a favourite tourism spot, especially after celebrities, such as American actors Angelina Jolie and partner Brad Pitt, had chosen Namibia as the country of birth for their daughter, Shiloh. The presence of such eminent personalities gave the country a “stamp of approval” in the minds of many other who had read about the country, but had never visited it.
Thude said that the objective for all those in the tourism industry is to put Namibia on the world map, increase sales and awareness of the country:
“Our products must look Namibian in the brochures overseas and thus give it a Namibian personality and identity,” she explained.
She stated that, according to the research done, tourists from Germany, the United Kingdom and South Africa regard Namibia as the best rated in terms of its vast nature and undiscovered lands.
“There is this personal relationship with the environment and people say they feel safe to be in Namibia where they don’t get hassled.
Because many tourists do not want to be bound to rigid tour schedules, many welcomed the idea that “Self-drive” was not only possible, but, because of the excellent infrastructure, was an exiting alternative to the more adventurous and independent tourist. “There’s been a significant growth in this market,” said Thude.
She also mentioned that Namibia not only had to compete with other countries in the region, but with desirable tourism destinations all over the world. The onus is on all those involved in selling the country “The answer lies in developing a strong clear and simple message that will help us stand out from the rest. A message that communicates the essence of Namibia and that differentiates Namibia clearly from our competitors,” she added.
Thude stressed that Namibia was not seen as a country for the timid, cautious or faint-hearted tourist, not for the tourists who prefer large groups and look for all kinds of entertainment to fill the hours.
At a time when it is obvious that prospective visitors are bombarded by literally hundreds of different advertising messages every day, Thude said, Namibia tour operators and other in the tourism industry had to ensure that their message came across pure and undiluted .;instead, the challenge was to cut through the clutter and grab their attention that Namibia was a country for those self-reliant, resourceful and independently minded people who crave a challenge and are not afraid or intimidated by the solitude and the thundering silence of, for instance, Sossusvlei.
This latest NTB branding workshop follows shortly after the high-level Tourism 2006 SADC-European Union Conference in the capital last week.