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Opinion - Invest in Namibia and tourists will come

2024-06-26  Correspondent

Opinion - Invest in Namibia and tourists will come

Connie-Marlene Theyse

Namibia is the land where the desert meets the sea, with some of the widest and most beautiful landscapes to be observed anywhere in the world, and more big cats, elephants and game than you could ever hope to capture with your camera. 

Pair this with 300 days of sunshine, the best road network in Africa and stunning lodges, and it becomes a ‘no-brainer’ as to why Namibia is a hot tourist destination. The African Hospitality Investment Forum (AHIF) taking place in the capital, Windhoek, just underscores the importance of Namibia as a tourism destination. On top of that, the country is fast becoming a destination for business travellers. 

The tourism industry contributed approximately 7% in 2022 to Namibia’s GDP, according to the United Nations Tourism Satellite Account (TSA) report, equating to N$14.3 billion. This figure is only growing as we emerge into a post-Covid world; the excitement is palpable. There are, however, still a lot of opportunities for growth, expansion and welcoming new tourists who can fall in love with the country. This Forum and the AviaDev Conference that took place earlier in June in Windhoek show that Namibia is ready to be a world-class destination for every type of traveller.  

Building and developing world-class facilities for the discerning international traveller as well as our very own Namibian tourists requires resources. Our vast, sparsely-populated country, with its never-ending sunshine and limited water supply, poses unique challenges to those operating in the hospitality sector. Any project requires proper planning, execution and most of all financing. That is why the Investment Forum, AHIF, could not have come at a better time. To take Namibia to the next level as a travel destination, significant investment in tourism development across all 14 regions is required, which needs to be done in a sustainable and eco-friendly manner that fits into the beautiful landscapes, and does not hinder or harm wildlife. 

Working together with stakeholders in the hospitality industry is not just about financing the building of lodges. An essential aspect of creating a sustainable hospitality and tourism industry is empowering Namibians to work and benefit from the tourists coming to visit. This means creating training opportunities within the hospitality sector and developing locally-owned ‘package tour’ operators and car rental companies. The more local companies that are owned and operating in Namibia, the more beneficial it will be for the country. It will ensure that the contribution of tourism to our GDP increases exponentially over the coming years. 

Having AHIF take place in the country means that we can learn from international experts and apply shared knowledge and experience to our unique Namibian context. Finding the best methods to finance existing hospitality ventures, a burgeoning Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) sub-sector and supporting other new sub-sectors in a financially-prudent fashion that empowers the Namibian tourism industry. 

The travel and tourism industry is a very specialised sector, and without learning from the experts, a new lodge, or a new tour operator can easily make mistakes and never fulfil the potential of the vision they had. Building the facilities is just the first step, without proper marketing to lure tourists, the lodges and hotels will stay empty. This also requires state-of-the-art booking systems and streamlined ‘hospitality’ information technology ensuring every aspect of the lodge, car hire or camping site, creating a seamless holiday experience for the travellers.  Starting any type of hospitality endeavour is not for the faint-hearted, but Namibia is known as the Land of the Brave, and if you are willing to take the step, the opportunities are there. With a local experienced banking partner that can support you every step of the way when it comes to financing hospitality projects. 

*Connie-Marlene Theyse is head of enterprise banking (commercial) at First National Bank of Namibia Limited. 


2024-06-26  Correspondent

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