WINDHOEK, Namibia — The tourism sector has become very competitive, as the competitive advantage is no longer natural but increasingly man-made, driven by science, technology and innovation.
“As such, it is not simply the stock of natural resources of Namibia that will determine her competitiveness in tourism but rather how these resources are managed, and to what extent it complements with man-made innovations.”
The Chief Executive Officer of the Namibia Tourism Board (NTB), Digu Naobeb, said this at a workshop on available business opportunities in the tourism sector and access to financial assistance for small and medium enterprises.
According to Naobeb, Namibia scores well on important fronts – such as the well-established network of national parks, conservancies, trans-frontier parks and private nature reserves.
He said the above tourism products are very much “in trend” with the demands of increasingly environmentally sensitive visitors.
Some companies are already leaders in global best practices in ecotourism.
In addition, the stable political, safe and secure business climate has opened the country’s tourism potential to the world and previously neglected groups in society, Naobeb said.
It is not surprising that Namibia is “one of the most promising tourism destinations on the African continent” as demonstrated by tourism accolades, awards and reviews it has received of late.
Despite all the above-mentioned advantages,Naobeb said Namibia has not been able to realise its full tourism potential.
As such, the contribution of tourism to employment, small business development and income, and foreign exchange earnings remains limited.
“There is now a need to be creative and innovative in developing new kinds of tourism products and attractions to boost the country’s name internationally, as the competition internally is ever changing and hence the reason for an entrepreneurial culture to be inculcated,” the NTB’s CEO advised.
Naobeb says it is a good thing for new businesses to enter the market, even if they end up failing.
According to Naobeb, with new business comes innovation and efficiency gains, which influence the entire market.
“Therefore, I believe that new businesses should be encouraged and government and the financial sector should give the required support and assistance, but we should remain cognisant of reducing the dependency and handout reliance syndrome,” he warned.
The required support that new businesses need, Naobeb pointed out, is financial access, market supply, chain networks, training and business capacity skills.
The tourism sector has been identified as one of the key sectors with a high potential of addressing unemployment in the country.