Namibians called upon to be ambassadors for Namibia – locally and abroad

The Deputy Minister of Environment and Tourism, Tomas Nambahu, has called on Namibian’s to be ambassadors for their country and market it abroad. He was speaking during the official launch of the Swakopmund Tourism Growth Strategy in Swakopmund. At the same event he called on all Namibian’s to create a welcoming environment.

“From the person at the airport, to the one on the street and the one putting up signs. We all should pull in the same direction to create an everlasting impression for tourists,” Nambahu said. He called on Namibian’s to “not be ignorant” and visit the whole country themselves. Only then can they market it locally as well as abroad.
While Nambahu calls on the tourism industry to communicate, interact, enhance happiness and be enthusiastic, he also criticised certain individuals for “undoing what we are trying to do.” In this regard he noted that while Namibia has impressive features and landscapes, some people attack tourists on lodges. “This will create a very bad impression,” he said; and added: “Now more than ever we are concerned about security, including petty thefts. It is un-African to invite somebody to your house and rob him,” he said.
The Deputy Minister described tourism as a cross-cutting business and that “it is everybody’s business.” “I still want to see the day when a Namibian taxi driver opens the door for a tourist.
Imagine what impression that would create,” he asked. In the same vein he mentioned a few examples of friendly service elsewhere in the world, which is unheard of in Namibia.
“When you go to a toilet in Doha (Qatar) there are people that clean the toilet for you before you go in. Here in Namibia you must pay N$1 to relieve yourself and when you enter the toilet, they don’t even function,” he said.
In another example he noted with concern the driving behaviour of Namibian’s compared to other nations. While in many countries drivers are friendly and offer assistance, here in Namibia drivers tend to resort to “road rage.”
“If you make a simple mistake, you get shouted at. All these things, as simple as they might seem, are important on the impression for visitors,” he said.
Nambahu further called on the private sector to help government with policies, strategies and ideas to enhance and grow the tourism industry. “Don’t blame government that we don’t understand tourism. We don’t know tourists and the tourism of the white person. You must teach us. Let’s learn from each other,” he said.
He admitted that politicians are not “Mr Know-It-Alls” and therefore need the assistance from the private sector.
While speaking Nambahu mentioned many aspects of the industry that need attention, specifically he also called on the tourism industry to promote the local products and traditions.
In his view Namibia has “so much to offer”, but the people lack the initiative to create their own identity. “We don’t visit Europe to eat Mahangu. Why should a person come to Namibia to eat Schnitzel that we don’t even do well, nor can pronounce?
Make your own product,” he said.
Nambahu congratulated Swakopmund for taking the initiative to draw up a Tourism Growth Strategy and called on the municipality to implement the recommendations.
Although he described the coastal town as one of the top-tourism destinations in Namibia, the residents and the municipality should not take that for granted.
“You can market your hotel, lodge, your streets or anything as much as you want, but if tourists don’t find a welcoming environment, then the effort you have made is useless if, not futile,” he said.

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