The Covid-19 pandemic has crushed the country’s once-thriving tourism sector.
The environment and tourism minister Pohamba Shifeta said his ministry has, therefore, set aside N$17.7 million during the 2021/22 financial year to revive and reboot the ailing industry.
Shifeta said this in the National Assembly on Thursday while motivating the ministry’s budget allocation of about N$525 million for the 2021/22 financial year.
He said in collaboration with multiple partners, the ministry will continue to ensure the implementation of the conservation relief, recovery and resilience facility (CRRRF), which was established in May 2020 and has targeted support mainly to communal conservancies and tourism enterprises in conservancy areas.
“Through the vehicle of the CRRRF, we have managed to disburse N$19 million to 79 conservancies while over N$10.4 million has been paid out to tourism business enterprises and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) operating in conservancies,” Shifeta told lawmakers.
Furthermore, Shifeta said priorities under the sector will be the establishment of the long-awaited State Lottery and Gaming Board to oversee the development of a National Lottery and to improve the regulation of the gambling sector.
These entities, once established, he said, are expected to generate more revenue for the treasury.
Highlighting the ministry’s achievement in the last financial year, Shifeta said the ministry managed to reduce the poaching of rhinos and elephants in 2020.
He said 31 rhinos were poached in 2020 compared to 52 in 2019, while 11 elephants were poached in 2020 compared to 13 in 2019.
He said increased successes were also reported in terms of arrests, with 64 suspects arrested for cases relating to elephant cases and 304 suspects arrested for rhino cases.
“It is unfortunate that our communal conservancies and community forests have been badly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic with income sources having been eroded, which has had a knock-on effect on employment, job creation and livelihood sustenance for the inhabitants of the conservancies,” he said.
Shifeta said from the N$525 million, N$438 million will go toward the operation budget, of which 85% will go towards personnel expenditure, whereas N$86.7 million is for the development budget.