Expo celebrates 21 years with focus on recycling

06 June 2019 | Tourism

ELLANIE SMIT



This week thousands will flock to the Windhoek Showgrounds where the country’s biggest tourism gathering, the Namibia Tourism Expo, officially opened yesterday, promising loads of activities for visitors.

Now in its 21st year the expo is taking place under the theme ‘Recycle’ from 5 to 8 June.

Speaking at the opening of the expo, tourism minister Pohamba Shifeta said this year’s theme is of utmost importance, not only for the tourism sector but also for the country at large, where a culture of recycling is just beginning to emerge.

He said Namibians need to change their “throwaway mentality” and the culture of overconsumption.

Shifeta specifically referred to solid waste management and said it is one of the most serious environmental issues, which if left unattended, will have adverse impacts on the environment and socio-economic well-being of Namibians.

He said the tourism sector is one of the sectors which is dependent on a clean environment, and can therefore suffer long-lasting negative impacts caused by pollution and a lack of waste management.

“When visitors come to our country, we notice a growth in statistics on an annual basis; it is of utmost importance to create a lasting impression of a clean destination in Namibia. It is very important that we all uphold the principles of reducing, recycling and reusing waste. When we follow these principles we are not only helping to combat serious environmental problems such as global warming, but we could also create treasures from trash and turn waste into wealth,” Shifeta said.

According to him, awareness on the importance of recycling needs to be raised in companies, shops and schools.

He further welcomed the Namibia Town of the Year competition, and challenged towns to compete to become cleaner.

Shifeta said this initiative promotes communities to work together to improve the attractiveness of their towns for tourism development and to build better relationships amongst all involved.

He said the root causes of waste and pollution can only be addressed if all sectors - from education, culture, industry, mining, environment, fisheries and agriculture - work together in a synergistic manner.

“Sharing information, harmonising policies and legislation and sharing efforts and resources to halt and reverse the challenge of waste and pollution within the borders of destination management. All of us, both in the public sector, civil sector, communal sector, private sector and collectively as individuals, have a role to play. Let us use tourism as a unifier for this cause, as tourism is everyone’s business.”

Shifeta added that the tourism sector is negatively affected by litter and irresponsible waste disposal and therefore encouraged the sector to spearhead the initiative of a cleaner Namibia by embracing the three principals of recycle, reduce and reuse.

According to him the ministry is leading by example and in 2018 banned plastic bags within national parks.

“Furthermore I call upon the sector to use this platform to network and seek for opportunities that will grow their businesses and improve on service delivery. Our tourism sector must not remain stagnant, if we are to attract more tourists to the country.”

He also called on everyone to be environmental ambassadors within their communities.

“We want a country that we are proud of and we must make the effort to do it, and we can do this, with the public and private sectors. We can maintain where we are, overcome the shortcomings, and we can make Namibia a better place to be, for ourselves and for our visitors.”

At the opening of the expo the winners of the Responsible Tourism Awards in the categories for accommodation and tour operators were also announced, while the #Hashtag Festival was also launched.

Since its inception in 1998, the expo has grown exponentially and has earned a superb reputation for offering the only centralised marketing platform for Namibia’s tourism industry, in particular travel and hospitality.

The Namibia Tourism Expo is hosted annually by Namibia Media Holding (NMH) and the main sponsors of the event are Old Mutual and FNB Namibia.

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