Call for more involvement in tourism
The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) underscored that while the private sector can and must play an increasingly important role to develop quality products and competitive services geared towards rapidly changing demand, the government needs to show leadership by stimulating and facilitating investment, streamlining and clarifying regulations and developing much-needed infrastructure and human capital.
“There currently appears to be a deep-rooted mistrust of the industry and its modus operandi throughout government, as well as poor understanding at all levels of the extent which stimulates entrepreneurship, encourages investment and promotes Namibia as a world-class destination at international level,” according to the recent report.
It is against this background that the council recommended that government needs to take note of the fact that T&T is an activity that involves the public as well as the private sector ‘ and permeates many different government departments and ministries.
The council suggested that a strong brand ‘Namibia’ would be a vital force in raising the country’s profile so that it can compete successfully in the international marketplace.
The WTTC expressed concern that there is currently no branding of the separate regions and no funds are allocated to promote the regions.
There is a great potential to improve the country’s road and rail services, which will benefit not only T&T but also the country’s population as a whole. Top-quality coaches can be a very real alternative to air transport.
The WTTC urged the Namibia Tourism Board (NTB) and the industry to promote this underutilised product wherever possible. It suggested that the rail express should be extended to Tsumeb, Etosha and other destinations.
The council recommended that the management of the Namibia Wildlife Resorts (NWR) be offered to private companies on a management contract or lease basis while the government retains overall ownership.
“As circumstances have recently shown, the future of these precious assets are by no means secure, so such a move to private management, if necessary, could have a positive impact on conservation, tourism, employment and the fiscal balance,” it noted.
Relevant authorities should co-ordinate with their counterparts in neighbouring countries to work towards a more open situation, which will be of mutual benefit and to work with the T&T to provide the relevant training and skills for staff.
As more cruise ships call at Namibian ports, the lack of basics passenger and excursion infrastructure becomes more and more evident and relevant.
In addition, the authorities should consider opening up the ports for port cruises to broaden the product offering.
Also, the council urged the government to consider incentive schemes to encourage both foreign and domestic investment in tourism and to intensify its efforts to remove the existing barriers to investment.
WTTC recommended that a one-stop shop for investment in tourism in Namibia, or as a separate entity, which will facilitate and co-ordinate the process necessary to start a tourism business in the country.
Priority should also be given to developing cultural tourism opportunities in Namibia that are demand driven.
There is a need for a long-term commitment on the part of local authorities and communities to sustain tourism development.
Namibia should also seek out opportunities to benefit from regional events such as the FIFA World Cup in South Africa in 2010.
On domestic tourism, NTB should undertake a domestic tourism campaign to highlight the opportunities open to locals.
A scaled pricing structure with reductions for residents, combined with low-season domestic special offers, will also encourage Namibians to travel within the country for leisure purposes.
Currently, the Ministry of Environment and Tourism is hard at work to develop a viable policy for public-private partnership initiatives in the tourism sector.
Namibia’s T&T economy employment is estimated at 72,000 jobs in 2006, which is 17,9 percent of total employment, or one in every 5,6 jobs.
By 2016, this should total 108,000 jobs, 20.7 percent of total employment of one in every 4,8 jobs.
T&T is expected to generate 21,0 percent in 2006, which is about N$ 4,4 million (US$ 715,9 million), increasing to N$16,7 million (US$ 1,7 million) in 2016.
Capital investment of the sector is estimated at N$ 1,3 million this year and should reach N$ 3,2 million (US$ 332.9 million) or 12,9 percent of total.
Government T&T operating expenditures in 2006 are expected to total N$ 298,1 million (US$ 48,3 million) or 2,9 percent of total government spending.
In 2016, this spending is forecast to total N$ 730,9 million (US$ 74,7 million) or 3.0 percent of total government spending.
Travel and tourism activity is expected to grow by 6,9 percent per annum in real terms between 2007 and 2016. ‘ NAMPA.