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 realizing 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 realize 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 to Namibia’s gross domestic product.
While, it must be clearly stated that, Namibia did not just arrive at this point were different tourists are excited about our country. It was a team effort starting from independence which ushered new dawn 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. This ensured that it became 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. For example, it was not so long ago that NWR was only operating Okaukuejo resort, Halali resort, and Namutoni resort within the Etosha National Park. Over the years we added Onkoshi resort, Dolomite resort as well as Olifantsrus campsite. This 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 realize the return. You need to be patient and continue contributing or in the tourism world, going to different expos and fairs in order to present your product offering with the aim of enticing more people to come and visit you. 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 growth of tourist arrivals. Most of our efforts along with the various campaigns 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.
By Zelna Hengari, managing director of Namibia Wildlife Resorts