Tourism agency reflects on visit to Namibia

10 November 2020 | Tourism

ELLANIE SMIT

WINDHOEK



The secretary-general of the World Tourism Organisation (UNTWO) has reflected on his visit to Namibia, saying he was pleased to see first-hand the commitment by the government to support tourism at this vital time and embracing the sector as a driver of positive change for all.

Zurab Pololikashvili, accompanied by a four-member delegation of UNTWO, last week paid a three-day visit to Namibia. This was Pololikashvili's first visit to an African member state since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

According to UNTWO the visit to Namibia reaffirmed its commitment to the continent and featured a series of high-level talks aimed at strengthening existing partnerships and looking to a sustainable, resilient future.

As the United Nations specialised agency for tourism, UNWTO has been actively guiding the sector's recovery and restart from the coronavirus pandemic.

To reflect the new challenges, it has worked directly with its African member states, including Namibia, to adapt the 2030 Agenda for Africa: Tourism for Inclusive Growth, the landmark roadmap for the responsible growth of tourism across the continent.



Support

This official visit offered a first chance to follow up on virtual meetings and advance the preparations for the restart of a sector upon which millions of African livelihoods depend, the UNTWO said. “UNWTO is committed to working closely with our African member states to realise the potential of tourism to help societies recover from the effects of the pandemic and enjoy long-term sustainable growth,” it said.

Pololikashvili met President Hage Geingob for talks on realising the potential of tourism to drive sustainable development, including for young people, women and rural communities.

“In addition, the secretary-general commended Geingob for his leadership, particularly with regard to the international tourism revival initiative which includes the key health and safety protocols drawn up by UNWTO.”

Alongside this, a meeting with Vice-President Nangolo Mbumba allowed the UNWTO leadership further opportunity to express support for African member states as they use tourism to recover and grow.



Strategies

Additionally, the UNWTO delegation met with tourism minister Pohamba Shifeta to identify ways of growing the country's tourism sector, including a greater focus on gastronomy tourism, rural and community-based tourism. Highlighting UNWTO's determination to lead by example, show travel is safe and be active on the ground when conditions are right, the delegation visited several of Namibia's leading tourist sites. These included the Namib Sand Sea, a Unesco World Heritage Site that is ready to welcome tourists again, and also Swakopmund and Walvis Bay.

Pololikashvili also met with the governor of the Erongo Region, Neville Andre, to offer UNWTO's support for local tourism.

“Additionally, the Namibia Tourism Expo provided an opportunity for UNWTO to engage with public- and private-sector leaders from across the region and sent a clear message to the world that Namibia is open and ready to welcome tourists again,” the delegation said.

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