The Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) is putting in place measures to aggressively enforce adherence to the Environmental Management Act of 2002, in particular adherence to regulations of waste management in all cities, towns and villages.
According to MET’s Deputy Minister Tommy Nambahu, this is in an effort to reaffirm the nation’s cleanliness and environmental hospitability to benefit the tourism sector.
“Despite Namibia losing its first position to Kigali, Rwanda, the MET continues to address waste management through educational campaigns and programmes. The establishment of all tourism developments such as lodges and hotels are guided by the Environmental Management Act of 2007 which promotes and encourages sustainable development in the country,” said Nambahu.
He further said that feedback on the friendliness of Namibians from the tourists themselves has always been and remains positive as “the people are the adventure”.
“Namibians are found to be accommodating, helpful and warm hosts to visitors. Travellers want to meet the people, eat what they eat and sleep where they sleep, while experiencing nature and taking on challenges like mountaineering, biking, surfing and ballooning as well as checking out the flagship national parks, Ramsar-declared wetlands, rock paintings and above all authentic culture and traditions,” stated the Deputy Minister.
To ensure this, he said, the Ministry works closely with the National Heritage Council and has been instrumental in the setting-up of a few ‘living museums’ by profiling the museums as tourist attractions, which include Mwafe in the Zambezi Region, Nakambale in Oshikoto and Ju/Hoansi- San in Tsumkwe in the Otjozondjupa Region.
“To showcase our art and craft, we boost and support numerous community craft centres such as the Penduka Craft Centre in Windhoek, the Katima, Mashi and Ngoma Craft centres in the Zambezi Region as well as the Tulongeni Craft Market in Omuthiya. What we want is for locals to be at the forefront of these projects, and the ministry will empower them, thus creating employment for themselves,” he noted.
Namibian operators offer traditional tours for tourists interested in seeing the way some of the local tribes lived before the advent of modern development.
In the traditional San area in eastern Namibia, tourists are able to live in San villages and experience and learn about the unique African culture. The OvaHimba culture in north-western Namibia can likewise be experienced first-hand.
“Last year, we launched three new strategic routes which particularly focus on cultural tourism, namely Arid Eden in the Kunene region, Omulunga Palm running through the Omusati, Ohangwena, Oshana and Oshikoto regions, and Four Rivers for Zambezi, Okavango East and West,” explained Nambahu.
The ministry, he said, continues to engage the relevant authorities responsible for Safety and Security in the country as they recognise the negative impacts crime can have on the tourism industry.
“The Ministry also has very excellent working relationships with organisations fighting crime against tourists in Namibia. The ministry is furthermore working on legislation to give peace officer status to wardens in Namibia, as well as inspectors employed by the Nambian Tourism Board,” he stated.