“Together, we are stronger!” This message was clear at the media launch of the 2016 annual HAN event, the Tourism Congress, Trade Forum and Awards Gala that took place this week. The tourism industry is, according to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Hospitality Association of Namibia (HAN), Gitta Paetzold, currently one of the few economic sectors in Namibia that shows growth and success, attributed to years of hard work and active marketing by stakeholders and the Namibia Tourism Board (NTC) abroad. This achievement is also, according to Paetzold, due to the strong and valuable partnership the Namibian tourism industry has managed to build, staying true to HAN’s motto “Tourism is everyone’s business”. Paetzold: “As such, strong bonds have been developed between HAN as well as key corporate partners, including NBL, as a company adding taste, ambience and great experiences to the tourism adventure in Namibia; professional and efficient services and advice from Standard Bank Namibia, and a strong commitment from Bannerman Resources – a uranium mining company still in its exploration phase in Namibia, yet willing to render support to the conservation of Namibia’s natural resources and heritage.”
Country CEO of Bannerman Resources, Werner Ewald – who due to the nature of his business, frequently travels across the Namibian countryside, stressed that all Namibians who travel on the country’s roads, should make a concerted effort to ensure not only the safety of national roads, but also contribute to getting and keeping Namibia’s roadsides clean. Standard Bank Namibia Acting Head of Marketing, Adv. Sigrid Tjijorokisa emphasized the importance of the tourism industry to the national economy of Namibia, especially at times “when due to drought and other negative influences, sectors such as agriculture, mining and manufacturing are facing dire times. Tourism is an important sector that helps promote a country’s image and opportunities, and thus worthy of continued support”. NBL Managing Director, Wesssie van der Westhuizen, echoed the importance of the tourism industry and noted that given the diverse partnership that has developed among HAN, as a tourism representative, and the variety of other sectors, it is safe to say that everyone had a key interest/stake in “mining tourism” in Namibia. In marketing, promoting the brand is a key element for success, and in promoting Namibia as a brand, everyone’s goal should be to strive for equity, where input and output are well balanced and result in optimal results. Van der Westhuizen: “What we can give to tourists to experience in Namibia is endless. Namibia is a brand, and it is important to make sure that tourists experience the best we can offer. We thus need to invest in marketing the Namibia brand.”
HAN Congress Chairlady Janet Wilson-Moore stated that given the success the tourism industry is currently experiencing, HAN thought it prudent to focus on the modalities, operations and partnerships that make this industry strong. Wilson-Moore said: “The HAN Congress this year will thus be held in form of a round-table discussion among all the key tourism stakeholders to ensure that the Namibian product ultimately exported to the global market is attractive, professional and unique. The round-table debate and subsequent HAN Tourism Trade Forum are aimed at ensuring that all key stakeholders of Namibia’s tourism industry, from accommodation and activity suppliers, to tour operators and destination marketing companies align themselves and unite their efforts to best respond to the global interest in Namibia as a desirable and growing tourism destination.” On the outset, HAN National Chairman, Rudie Putter, emphasized the importance and strength of the partnership that exists among the key stakeholders in Namibia’s commercial sector and tourism, through HAN and its annual event, offering all stakeholders within and involved with the tourism sector a platform to debate efforts, and celebrate the successes of our country. Putter said: “Just as His Excellency, the President of Namibia, Dr Hage Geingob had, since taking office, shared opportunities for business and partnerships with the international community, so should the tourism industry ensure that it continues to promote the positive image of Namibia and the uniquely attractive travel opportunities this country offers.”
Putter thanked all the trusted and valued sponsors and partners to HAN, and stressed that it is only through such powerful partnerships, that HAN is able to stage annual events of such magnitude, and ultimately aim for an even bigger growth in tourism.