Namibians must embrace cultural diversity

The tourism minister says the demand for cultural tourism products is increasing and Namibians should grab this opportunity.

22 April 2021 | Tourism

ELLANIE SMIT

WINDHOEK

Culture is an asset that can be used to address issues such as job creation and rural development, considering the cultural diversity that Namibia has.

Tourism minister Pohamba Shifeta said this could only be achieved if Namibians embraced one another’s cultures and traditions, in line with Namibian laws.

He said the demand for cultural tourism products is increasing, therefore there is a need to explore the type of products that can be developed, especially for self-drive tourists, who travel more flexibly and widely.

Shifeta was speaking at launch of the National Strategy on Sustainable Heritage Tourism Development and Employment Creation Opportunities at Community Level.

Revival

Shifeta said the goal of the strategy is to accelerate tourism’s role in economic development, broaden tourism’s role in social inclusiveness and boost tourism’s role in cultural values, environment, diversity and heritage management.

He said recovery from the devastating impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the travel industry is very slow.

Shifeta said tourism could only be revived if all stakeholders, from central government to local communities, create and maintain a symbolic relationship through resource mobilisation and sustainable utilisation.

“This type of collaboration will give us an opportunity to work out the best strategies, to innovate and package the cultural product offerings in such a way that they will be well received and talked about by the potential visitors.”

Local tourism

He said if well packaged, natural and cultural heritage activities could boost local travel, which will make it easier for the Namibian Tourism Board to promote domestic tourism.

Shifeta said experiencing different cultures is one of the principal motivations for travel, with tourists seeking to experience the global variety of performing arts, handicrafts, rituals and cuisines.

“The cultural interaction spurred by such encounters prompts dialogue, builds understanding, and fosters tolerance and peace.”

He said responsible tourism is a growing trend across the world, as more travellers want to see a positive impact from their travel.

The minister said some of the cultural and natural heritage products that Namibia can offer are San healing dances, the Olufuko cultural festival, Ovahimba traditional exhibitions, Mafwe and Masubia cultural festivals and the Nama festival.

He said Namibians should explore more effective ways of extracting products from local fruits such as marula and !nara to produce traditional drinks or essential oils for cosmetic use. Other traditional crafts such as making clay pots can also be valuable.

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