The recent Arabian Travel Market held in the United Arab Emirates, gave Ipaha Travels an opportunity to promote Namibia as a destination.
Arabian Travel Market is a travel and tourism event aimed at unlocking business potential within the Middle East for inbound and outbound tourism professionals.
It is run yearly for the past 20 years and had 80 countries exhibiting at its recent Trade Fair early this month.
It had around 2 700 exhibitors which was an increase from the 2 436 exhibitors received in 2012.
Ipaha Travels owned by Katrina Kandjii ,was the only local tour operator present in the Namibian delegation.
She said the Namibian stand received overwhelming queries; however there is still a need to aggressively market the country.
“I was privileged to be part of the delegation that represented Namibia. Being present at the event made me realise that few people have heard of Namibia. It gave me a great opportunity to fill that knowledge gap and I have already embarked on a mission to get our country known,” she said.
An opportunity she has already seized as she was quoted in an online Dubai daily “Gulf News” giving publicity to Namibia.
“We have a variety of culture; we have the wildlife and a landscape that’s changing every now and then, we have space, security, political stability. We even have legal hunting; there are these conservation farms you can visit to hunt. It is the only country in the world to have borders with four countries so we have the wildlife roaming between countries,” she stated in the online daily.
She adds that queries done at their stand were mostly about the level of security and stability of the country, as well as the quality of the hospitality industry and hunting sector.
Namibia Board Tourism Board (NTB) member Benita Herma also stated that in this year’ trade fair, Namibia stand to received many inquiries compared to the last year’s event.
“I am excited about so much interest shown for Namibia at the Arabian Travel Market. I was under the impression that we have to work hard to even get them to pronounce the word Namibia. Come 2014, I am encouraging more Namibian operators to join the Namibia Tourism Board (NTB) and to market Namibia to the Middle East,” she said.
Beside, Ipaha travels, the Hunting Association and the Ovita game and hunting lodge was also present.
NTB has been working on entering various untouched tourism markets in the Middle East and Asia as well as North America.
During the trade fair, Kandjii made contact with prospective investors and visitors at the exhibition, hence has scheduled a visit back to the Emirates to strengthen those relationships in due course.
Ipaha Travels, a tour operating agency opened in 2011 plans guided tours as well as self drive in Namibia.
Kandjii started the business after returning home after graduating in Languages and Tourism at the University of Trento (Italy) in collaboration with the University of Germany, where she was sent as an exchange student on an “Instituto trentino di cultura” scholarship.
Upon her return, she joined Sense of Africa, a leading inbound tour operator.
Working at the Sense of Africa opened her doors to the tour operating world, which inspired her to open her own tour operator agency with a niche the Italian market, as she is fluent in the language.
At this stage, she is working in expanding her market.
She was also recently part of a tourism exchange week in South Africa organised by NTB.
“In South Africa, we met influential people in the tourism and hospitality industry, like the owner of the Soweto Hotel who is a woman. She was was an inspiration to me. We also managed to network between us as there were enough activities prepared, thanks to NTB,” she said.