By Wezi Tjaronda WINDHOEK Gondwana cards, which were launched last year, no longer have to be renewed. Initially the card, which cost N$100 and N$50 for adults and children between six and 14 years respectively, was valid for one year. In addition, the initiative, which offers a 50 percent discount on accomodation and breakfast to Namibians at lodges of the Gondwana Collection, has been extended to other SADC countries. Following the card's success in Namibia, the Gondwana Collection is offering a 40 percent discount on accommodation and breakfast at all Gondwana Collection establishments, the company has announced. Mannfred Goldbeck, Managing Director of Gondwana Collection, said last week the announcement not to renew the card concided with the Namibia Tourism Expo in May last year, where the outfit decided to make the card valid indefinitely. "At the same time we confirmed that this, of course, also applied to cards which had been issued before the expo," he said, adding: "The expiry date on the first batches of cards has become meaningless and is ignored by the staff at the lodges." Gondwana card holders are entitled to a 50 percent discount on accommodation and breakfast, and a 25 percent discount on dinner at all lodges of the Gondwana Collection throughout the year. Since the intiative was launched in March last year, some 650 Gondwana cards have been issued. The initiative, aimed at helping more Namibians to experience the beauty of their own country as tourists, came after the realization that Namibia lacks a distinct travelling finesse, explaining why holiday travel is a luxury in a developing country. Commentators say instead of exploring their country, many Namibians prefer to spend their vacation with relatives at home or on the farm, at the seaside or in the Cape. They also go on excursions into the wilds without expecting a great deal of convenience, which include in the open, at camping sites or in self-catering accommodation. Last year, a report, "Improving Domestic Tourism in Namibia" revealed that travellers found the services in the tourism industry out of reach for anyone willing to travel. According to interviews, observations and questionnaires conducted by the survey, commissioned by the Namibia Tourism Board, 60 percent of the respondents said they perceived prices to be too expensive, while 71 percent said the high prices deterred them from travelling. Namibians that travel within Namibia say tourism in the country is primarily focused on the international market, causing its prices to increase beyond the affordability of many and deterring many potential tourists from travelling. The Gondwana Collection consists of four nature reserves with a variety of accommodation facilities in southern Namibia (in the Kalahari, at the Fish River Canyon, in the vicinity of the wild horses of the Namib and near Sesriem/Sossusvlei), plus one accommodation facility in the north, close to Etosha National Park.
2008-04-01 00:00:00 10 years ago