• July 2nd, 2020

Adventure travel tourism in Namibia: Did we learn much?

A good seven or ten years back the world converged on Namibia with 650 hotel bookings culminating into a total audience of 700 [people] from around the globe to witness this adventure, the first on the African continent. 

This is the global hub for the adventure industry and indeed a growing sector of the tourism global industry. Little wonder that the secretary-general of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) was impelled to exclaim that “Adventure travel is the future of tourism”. 

Until that point Namibians had little understanding of what was destined to hit the country but given the nation’s capacity to welcome all but keep the best, this one was among the best, to be overrun only by the Fifa World Cup, still to hit the shores of the Land of the Brave.

This summit brought together decision-makers in the adventure travel and tourism industry who after all formalities, focused on a single over-arching subject; interrogating how best to make adventure tourism an industry of businesses that are profitable, planet-friendly and supportive of local economies. 

Delegates to the summit, who include international tour operators and the media covered a number of sectors. Delegates included outlets such as AFAR, Backpackers, BBC, Coode Nast, National Geographic and Men’s Journal.    

The summit came to Namibia against the backdrop of the 2010 summit in Scotland, believed to have netted that country about US$1.6 million. The organisers for the Namibian summit had intended to showcase the country as the world’s preferred tourist destination and, banking on a projected number of 600 participants, they anticipated the country to benefit from hotel bookings, an estimated 650 to include those who travelled with families, meals and bar tabs all around, local operators to connect to international partners, media buyers - increasing connectivity and direct sales.

Just how did this go, what benefits accrued to Namibia and, was it worth the trouble? Maggy Mbako of the public relations unit in the Namibia Tourism Board at the time contended that this was a unique experience and that the summit had gone very well. 

They had planned the summit with the intention that it remains on the minds of people globally for the ensuing ten years and she was confident that it would happen. 

The Namibia Tourism Board recorded that representatives of about 50 media houses globally attended the summit and this was the bonus for Namibia to be marketed internationally. 

Even more encouraging was that during the pre and post summit expeditions, about 49 packages were sold, out of which 27 went to conservancies around the country. 

I heared the Minister of Environment and Tourism at the time, Uahekua Herunga, say on radio that the estimated income from this four-day summit revolved around N$30 million and it was a first for Namibia, a litany of deficits accruing to ministries and state owned institutions as a result of erratic management of international conventions of this kind is rife.

The Adventure Travel World Summit in question reflected well on the tourism industry in general and for Namibia in particular. The challenge remains with Minister Pohamba Shifeta, the Namibia Tourism Board and the broad hospitality movement in Namibia to pick the mettle from Herunga’s legacy on this one and sustain the momentum for the advent of adventure tourism in Namibia. 

For needless to belabor, this exercise was a stage-setter for serious endeavors aimed at national development.
I brought back this experience second to none, at least up to that time, so that we can all reflect on this as Namibians particularly those of us in the business of state and charged with planning economic revitalisation and business engineering to dust off the reports that emanated from this global experience and, hopefully, interrogate the extent to which we have benefitted from this learning curve.

New Era Reporter
2019-02-27 09:47:35 | 1 years ago

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