By Lahja Nashuuta
Stakeholders and key players in the tourism industry from different SADC countries who are congregated in Windhoek for a three-day Hospitality Association of Namibia (HAN) tourism forum have commended Namibia for promoting township and cultural tourism; stating that it is a noble initiative that is worth emulating.
The delegates made these remarks at the end of a township tour that was conducted on Thursday by Hafeni Cultural Tour and Travel, a local company that specializes in township tourism and traditional restaurants.
“Township tourism was a new concept for me as we don’t have them in our country. I like the fact that this kind of tourism benefits the tourism business and the community. Tourists visiting the area will be able to buy local products, pay for cultural entertainment such as cultural dancers and in the process be able to learn people different ways of living” said Amelda Mathware, Managing Director of Badooe Travel and Tours based in Gaborone, Botswana.
Jubilee Chibawe, the managing director for Mukwa Travel and Tours in Zambia said cultural tourism is a sector that has been neglected in many countries. “I was so impressed to find out here it is one of the thriving tourism sectors in the country,” she said. Chibawe said it is unique that tourism and hospitality do not only benefit the business owners and tour guides but also improve the living conditions of indigenous and rural communities by harnessing their wealth of unrecognized cultural heritage. Hafeni Cultural Tours and Travel took the delegates through the historic places in Windhoek such as the Independence Memorial Museum, the place that focuses on the anti-colonial resistance and the national liberation struggle of Namibia.
They were also taken to the historic areas in Katutura such as Damara location, where they visited an elderly man known by the name pastor Kiddo, who make a living by selling portraits. The delegates were also taken to Otjikaidu Den, a local restaurant located at the heart of Wanaheda that is known traditional cuisines mainly goat heads. The delegates then visited Havana informal settlement where young people are using arts to make a living and then a final stop enjoying Kapana at Single Quarters.
“I was more impressed by the Herero Culture, their outfits and how they prepare ‘Omaere’. However, I was so saddened by the history of the liberation struggle as narrated by the Mr. Hafeni, because I never knew that there was genocide in your country that wipe the majority of Herero and Nama people out” says Lorato Mphato of Africa Lora Travels.
Furthermore, Lovemore Chipisa, the managing director for Africa Travel Tours in Zimbabwe termed township and cultural tourism as sustainable tourism with a potential to accelerate the growth of the economy, but is often ignored.
He called on individual countries to capitalize on the comparative and competitive advantages of being able to offer tourists a vibrant mixture of historical and contemporary cultural resources in rural settings.