When one thinks about how far we have advanced as a country, it’s so easy to overlook the amount of effort and time that has gone into realising the progress we are enjoying today. As a nation, we all desire to be developed in order to provide a better life for our fellow citizens.
From the onset, like investing, tourism requires patience and continued investment in order to realise the results of one’s efforts. It’s so easy to forget that in 1992 our tourist arrivals were 220 000. However, in 2017 our arrivals stood at 1,499,442. Furthermore, in 2015 the industry was said to be supporting 44,700 jobs and significantly contributing towards Namibia’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP)
It should be stated that Namibia did not just arrive at this particular point in time, where different tourists are excited about our country. It was a team effort starting from Independence, which ushered in a new era that allowed safe travel throughout Namibia. Equally, the emergence of the Namibia Tourism Board (NTB) played a significant role in taking brand Namibia onto the international stage: The duo propelled Namibia into a ‘must-see’ destination.
Also, Namibia Wildlife Resorts (NWR) and many other tourism establishments have greatly contributed towards the selection of lodges visitors can stay at.
For example, it was not so long ago that NWR was only operating Okaukuejo, Halali and Namutoni resorts within the Etosha National Park. Over the years, we added the Onkoshi and Dolomite resorts, as well as the Olifantsrus campsite. The addition has greatly assisted in ensuring that we are able to meet the high demand within the park.
One thing that I always tell people is that, tourism is like investing money, it takes time to realise the return. You need to be patient and continue contributing. In the tourism world, this means going to different expos and fairs in order to present your product offering with the aim of enticing more people to come and experience for themselves the product that you offer.
It is for this reason I have come to appreciate that it takes around three years before you start seeing a return on your investment within the sector. At times it might happen faster, but you need to be patient.
This is why after many years of putting the word out there, Namibia is now enjoying a burgeoning growth of tourist arrivals. Most of our efforts, coupled with the various campaigns that the NTB has been involved in, are starting to yield the desired results. If we are to continue on this growth path, we as a nation need to consciously keep the momentum and remember that tourism is like investing, it takes time to get your return.
Zelna Hengari: Managing Director, Namibia Wildlife Resorts (NWR)