Namibia’s premier tourist destination turns 100

Elephants:

These pachyderms are just one of the many varieties of game visitors come to Etosha National Park for. The park is one of the most popular tourist destinations for visitors from Europe and celebrates its centenary next year.

Just one day after Namibia officially celebrates her 17th independence next year, the Etosha National Park turns 100 years old.

Namibian Minister of Environment & Tourism, Rev. Willem Konjore, on Wednesday announced that the official 100th birthday of the Park would be celebrated as from 22 March 2007 for one year.

This will done by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET), in partnership with Namibia Wildlife Resorts (NWR), the Namibia Tourism Board (NTB) and Team Namibia. The celebration will focus on the Etosha National Park as a flagship park of Namibia.

Etosha National Park is one of the oldest, largest and most renowned national parks in the world, playing a critical role in safeguarding Namibia’s natural heritage. In addition, it is the most important draw-card for tourists to Namibia.

A logo symbolizing the centenary was chosen from scores of entries in a National Etosha Centenary logo competition. Susanne Hoff submitted the winning design, which features Namibia’s national animal ‘ an oryx ‘ and the number 100.

Meanwhile, the park is being prepared for the centenary and an amount of N$10,5 million was received from the Game Products Trust Fund.

Konjore said most of the money would be used to repair, maintain and upgrade equipment and infrastructure such as roads, toilets, fences, firebreaks, water points, road signs, gravel pits, refuse sites and sewerage works.

Namibia Wildlife Resorts would utilise N$60 million to repair and maintain infrastructure, try new tourism products and facilities and restore the park’s status as Namibia’s flagship park ahead of next year’s centenary celebrations.

Amongst this, NWR Managing Director Tobie Aupindi said, would be establishing themed information centres at each of the three rest camps (Okaukuejo, Halali and Namutoni); opening western Etosha for guided tours and trial walking trails and guided night drives.

Konjore said Etosha belonged to the people of Namibia and invited public participation in the planning and execution of activities The Ministry of Environment & Tourism was encouraging groups and individuals to link planned activities next year to centenary celebrations.

The minister also said suggestion had come in for various activities that could take place for the centenary celebrations, such as a film festival featuring some of the finest films made about Etosha, or, for instance, a marathon across a section of the park and the establishment of storytelling venues within the park. Several local artists have come forward with songs for the centenary.

NamPost was to issue a commemorative postage stamp series with special date stamps for the centenary.

All activities, Konjore added, would be overseen by a coordinator who will ensure that activities, events and a calendar for the celebrations are finalised. This post has been advertised and an individual or company is expected to start work soon.

However, a lack of funding means that the MET and NWR were appealing to Namibian businesses and institutions to come forward with funding for specific activities.

So far, the minister concluded, MET had decided that although the official date of the Park’s 100 years of existence was 22 March, only a soft launch would be held on that date.

This would be followed later in the year by a gala event to be held in the Park. This was to ensure sufficient available accommodation within the park and to afford the best game viewing opportunities for guests.

October 2006
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