NTB to change operational mandate
To comply with international best practices, the Namibia Tourism Board (NTB) will now focus solely on marketing and promoting the country, as opposed to regulating the industry and developing capacity in the tourism sector.
This will come into effect with the implementation of recommendations contained in the ‘National Sustainable Tourism Growth and Development Strategy 2016-2026’, which was launched yesterday together with the ‘National Tourism Investment Profile and Promotion Strategy 2016-2026’.
This also means the NTB will have to develop a national marketing strategy, which would than speak to its new mandate. NTB chief executive officer Digu //Naobeb yesterday told New Era that he does not have a problem with the NTB’s new mandate, as it complies with international practice. The NTB is already in the process of developing a marketing strategy, //Naobeb said.
In his remarks at the launch of the two strategic documents, //Naobeb said with the new strategies that would be implemented regional councils should not depend solely on the NTB to market their regions, but should make provisions within their budgets to market their towns and areas at local level.
In countries, such as South Africa, where destination marketing is not just at national level but also at provincial level, “marketing budgets are stretched from different stakeholders,” he explained to New Era. The budget of the NTB is limited and, therefore, all stakeholders have to come on board and regional councils should equally invest in marketing their regions, he added.
“That way the impact is quite high,” he suggested, as opposed to when it is just the NTB marketing Namibia internationally and domestically. “The only people we see doing this is Air Namibia (sic),” said //Naobeb. “Tourism is not an easy sector to develop. It requires good marketing research to be successful,” he said, adding that an atmosphere of peace and security is also crucial.
The director of tourism and gaming in the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, Dr Sem Shikongo, added that with the implementation of the new strategic framework the Namibia Wildlife Resort (NWR) would be expected “to perform and make money”. Shikongo also outlined the objectives of the two documents, saying it aims to see an increase in tourist numbers and attract and increase tourists from all key markets.
An inadequate understanding of the tourism market and structures is one of the reasons the Namibian tourism sector suffers from investments that are not sustainable, added Shikongo. In addition, the lack of information sharing and inter-sectoral and cross-sectoral communication has also had a negative impact on the growth of the tourism sector, he said.
At the moment, the tourism sector is the third largest contributor to the country’s economy. And, with the launch of the two strategic documents it is hoped that the tourism sector will be the largest contributor to Namibia’s Gross Domestic Product by 2030. Minister of Environment and Tourism, Pohamba Shifeta launched the documents at an event attended by stakeholders of the tourism sector.
Shifeta said Government recognises the tourism sector to the growth of the country’s economy. Despite this, “the tourism sector has not reached its full potential, hence there is a need to address all constraints and allocate more resources to promote Namibia as a prime tourist destination and a haven for tourism investment,” said Shifeta.
He further said: “If the current efforts of developing tourism products in a sustainable manner are strengthened and upheld at all times, tourism will be a key catalyst for growth and nation building across all sectors”.