Namibia is set to hold the United Nations World Tourism Organisation’s (UNWTO) regional conference on brand Africa.
The conference, themed ‘Strengthening Brand Africa for the swift Recovery of the Tourism Sector’, will host tourism ministers, experts and stakeholders from 14 to 16 June 2021.
The minister of tourism, Pohamba Shifeta, said the conference is welcoming in that it offers the country an opportunity to restart tourism.
“We feel this conference is very vital, especially this time and it is a necessity because we are trying to put everything back on track after we have had Covid-19 last year which is continuing this year. We feel the brand Africa conference will put most of the elements on the rail,” he said.
Relaying the secretary general’s (SG) pledge to advancing Namibia’s tourism, director of the Africa department at UNWTO, Elcia Grandcourt said, “I can reiterate the SG’s commitment to the development of Namibia’s tourism. Covid-19 has not been easy for many of our members and from the get-go, this is what he’s been advocating; he believes we must travel, reopen our borders, and take into account the various protocols to be in line so that slowly, we can restart tourism.” As part of preparations for the event, Grandcourt was on a preliminary mission to Namibia last April where she met Shifeta to firm up an agreement on Namibia as the host country.
The country was initially pencilled to host the brand conference last year but was put on hold as a result of the coronavirus.
During his four-day state visit to Namibia in November 2020, the SG of the UNWTO Zurab Pololikashvili said, they were committed to holding the event in Namibia this year and in consultation with the Namibian government.
He added that the conference would be an opportune platform to look for new ways to make Africa a must-visit destination and position it in the minds of travellers.
Tourism for inclusive growth identifies branding as a major area to help create a positive image of Africa as a tourism destination that supports the efforts of individual countries and companies. It also serves to narrate several positive stories about Africa and make tourism a driver of development.
Activity in Namibia’s tourism sector fell precipitously in 2020, largely affected by the Covid-19-induced travel restrictions and social distancing considerations.
The sector is estimated to have contracted massively by 33.1% in 2020, after registering a marginal positive growth rate of 2.8% in 2019, this is according to Bank of Namibia estimates.
The contraction was manifested in sharp declines in the number of bed and room nights sold by the hospitality industry, as well as in regional and international passenger arrivals at Namibian airports.