Many articles you read about people’s experiences as tourists in Namibia always highlight the amazing vast landscapes, the friendly people and the unique environment it has to offer. It is rather a heartwarming feeling for most of us involved in providing services within the tourism sector – be it directly or indirectly. But with the sudden collapse of almost every tourism entity in this beautiful country of ours, we all feel pretty much lost and out of control.
To an ordinary person, tourism might seem rather frivolous. However, the reality, as statistics show, tourism is indeed one of the most influential sectors, contributing more than 50% towards the GDP of many world economies. According to an article published by, Paxton (2020). Head of Ecosystems and Biodiversity, UNDP, travel and tourism account for 10.3% of global GDP, which makes the sector larger than agriculture. In 2019 alone, it created one in four new jobs. The economic contribution of wildlife tourism is equally impressive. It came to US$343.6 billion (0.4% of global GDP) in 2018. Wildlife tourism supported about 6.8% of total travel and tourism jobs. The percentage is much higher in Africa, which accounts for about 36.3%.
In Namibia, tourism, which is primarily nature-based, is the second-largest economic sector, accounting for 15.4% of total employment and 14.7% of the national GDP. Tourism is a core part of the country’s poverty reduction and biodiversity conservation strategy. Alongside tourism, we have wildlife conservation, which plays a vital role in attracting tourists to Namibia.
Conservation management in Namibia has made it possible for Namibia to gazette nearly 50% of its land for conservation-oriented management, of that 20% comprising 86 communal conservancies harbouring the flagship safari species, Paxton (2020). Head of Ecosystems and Biodiversity, UNDP, including desert-adapted elephants, lions, and the world’s largest population of black rhinos, leopards and cheetahs.
With the above in mind, we need to realise just how many lives have been affected by this sudden pandemic of Covid-19. With the ban of all travels around the world, Namibia will no longer receive any tourists to experience the touristic attractions Namibia has to offer, which bluntly means the loss of thousands of jobs and incomes, as businesses now have to close down completely. The recovery of this pandemic is also very much unknown, and it sure will not be business as usual soon after the pandemic is over. Now the question is, what do we do in the meantime to prepare for the days when the pandemic has finally disappeared and we need to restart the tourism businesses somehow?
I am thinking we have all been given a precious chance to take a sector once great to even greater heights after this storm is over. I am not talking about getting back to our old jobs and just continue to live life like nothing ever happened. I am talking about actually realising that every experience we have acquired in the many years of service in our daily jobs in tourism now has the potential to come out and be put to use to make a difference.
In this breathe, I urge my fellow Namibian youth, especially those of us employed in travel tourism and conservation to use this time during the lock-down, to read up and educate ourselves of the real facts of the importance the tourism sector has on our daily livelihoods and the economy of this beautiful nation. This is the time to educate your communities on the importance of conserving and appreciating the Namibian wildlife and our environment at large.
I confidently want to say to every youth out there, tourism and conservation is not a ‘white man’s business” as stereotypes have painted it to be. Every single Namibian benefit from the fruits of tourism and conservation, be it directly or indirectly. Thus, we are all served the obligation to make sure that we play our part in rendering our helping hand where it is needed.
I believe we all need to be a part of something bigger than ourselves, so let us stand together in these unprecedented times and make a difference where we can, for our lovely tourism sector.
*Selma Amadhila is a bachelors (Honours) graduate in tourism management and now a tourism employee.
2020-05-08 10:19:47 | 3 months ago