By Foibe Paavo
SWAKOPMUND, June 29 – The Erongo Regional Council, through the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism, launched the region’s first-ever Tourism Forum in Swakopmund on Wednesday.
It consists of not more than 15 members from specific institutions with the aim to address poverty, and unemployment, as outlined in the National Sustainable Tourism Growth and Development Strategy (2016-2026) objectives – A strategy which aims to grow a vigorous and dynamic economic sector … that brings social and economic benefits to all Namibians.
“We’re laying a foundation to restart tourism and to invest in a resilient future – working together to transform Namibia into the most competitive tourism destination in Africa … and to be the country of choice for prospective investors,” said Benitha Imbamba, chairperson of the Erongo Regional Council.
The main focus of the forum is to oversee and coordinate tourism development, economic growth and financial services sustainability for the regional tourism industry.
The forum further aims to act as a platform for information sharing on tourism development and growth and also to advise the government and private sector on possible solutions. It aims too to address challenges in order to develop and grow tourism, and monitor the strategic action for the region.
“We should initiate in decision-making platforms where all of us are involved,” said the regional governor, Neville Andre.
He also highlighted that tourism is one of the key economic sectors to address poverty, unemployment, community empowerment and national economic development. And it needs to be recognised as the most competitive business. Therefore, competitiveness should be enhanced to address the challenges that the sector faces.
“After two years of [the] Covid-19 pandemic, our economies have suffered a great deal and surely we cannot afford for this to continue. We must look to the future with hope and not with fear,” he said.
He stressed that Erongo offers some of the most spectacular tourist destinations and that region has four commercial conservancies that contribute largely to the livelihood of Namibian people.
The deputy director at the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism, Elise Hashikutuva, also mentioned that tourism is the backbone of the Namibian economy, thus it contributes a lot to the gross domestic product (GDP) and its contribution is increasing every year. So the forum is a great initiative to better market tourism.
“The threatening number of external disruptions threatening the status quo, instability and flexibility, has therefore become critical. Therefore we must start thinking of critical ways to overcome these challenges. And I’m sure through this forum, we’d be able to look into those solutions that would benefit the sector,” Governor Andre concluded. – Namibia Daily News