By: Justicia Shipena
Environment and tourism minister Pohamba Shifeta says towns should strive to provide high-quality visitor experiences.
Shifeta said this during the 7th annual general meeting of the public enterprises CEOs forum in Orangemund on Thursday.
According to him, the visitor experience should be welcoming and engaging and raise awareness of the natural and cultural values found inside or around towns.
“I, however, wish to emphasis that our towns should strive to do everything possible to provide high-quality visitor experiences that are welcoming and engaging,” said Shifeta.
He said towns like Oranjemund, Lüderitz, and Rosh-Pinah would soon become premier development hubs of Namibia for various reasons.
“Government has been promoting the green hydrogen projects and the potential around the blue economy. When all of these development projects are realised fully, it will signify a turning point in the history of the //Kharas Region,” he said.
Hence, he said towns need to create investment-friendly environments, including public tourism infrastructure.
“Over the last few years, the ministry has been hard at work to unleash business opportunities around the proclamation of the Tsau ǁKhaeb National Park, formerly known as Sperrgebiet.”
He said Tsau //Khaeb National Park is one of the ‘new era’ protected areas, proclaimed to preserve biodiversity while contributing to the local and national economy.
The Tsau ǁKhaeb National Park is located in the Namib Desert, and it spans the Atlantic Ocean-facing the coast from Oranjemund on the border with South Africa to around 72 kilometres north of Lüderitz, a distance of 320 km north.
Moreover, Shifeta said tourism concessions had been identified and developed that may include desert experiences and ghost-town tours and Orange River boating and many more activities set to offer new visitors’ experiences.
“The concession operators will guide all planned activities,” he said.
He said towns and regions face unique challenges due to population growth.
‘We also face great challenges in terms of the accompanying amenities,” he adds.
Shifeta said new economic realities point out that towns and regional economies may no longer function as they once did.
“Towns and regions that thrive in this age and time are those that will be differentiated by their lively neighbourhoods and business districts, cultural and recreational attractions, great sense of safety, protected natural areas, and deep pride in local character, products and foods.”
In this vein, he said that changing the economic circumstances of Nmaiban towns requires effective strategic planning by local, regional and national authorities.
“However, attracting and retaining new talents to any town proves to be challenging to some towns,” he said.
He further said Namibia sees the quality of life as a key economic driving factor, ranging from good health care and educational facilities to cultural institutions.
The public enterprises CEOs forum aims to create a networking platform for public enterprises to have a collective voice in liaison with other Public Enterprises and the government.
“The Forum further creates an opportunity for public enterprises to give input to legislation, policies and other directives by government. It is pleasing to note that this Forum facilitates benchmarking best practices and promotes skills transfer.”
Touching more on tourism, Shifeta said tourism had become an important sector in developing the domestic economy.
He added that the supply chains in the tourism industry had been significantly disrupted over the last two years due to Covid-19 Pandemic.
“The focus should now be directed to the rebuilding of our tourism industry,” he said.
Shifeta concluded that Namibia needs to be better prepared to deal with similar challenges in years to come.