Govt looking at sustainable tourism in response to Covid-19 disruptions

Eba Kandovazu

THE Namibian Government will launch a project aimed at inclusive community development as a response to the crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The main outcome of the project is to address some of the immediate socio-economic impacts of Covid-19 on tourism and heritage, accelerating the recovery to protect livelihoods and transform the sectors to become more inclusive and sustainable.

The project, whose details will be announced tomorrow, will be funded by GIZ and will be known as ”Promoting Sustainable Tourism and Private Sector Engagement for Inclusive Community Development”.

The funding will be done through the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism (MEFT) and the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture (MEAC) in partnership with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).

“The project is part of the implementation process of the National Strategy titled “Sustainable Heritage Tourism Development and Employment Creation at Community Level” launched in April 2021 by the ministers of Education, Arts and Culture and Environment, Forestry and Tourism.

The strategy aims to assess various strategic economic and employment opportunities that could be exploited to create decent work through the development of heritage tourism at community level. The two ministries in partnership with UNESCO will collaborate with local and national stakeholders to bring this project to fruition,” Sebulon Chicalu, the Director of Tourism and Gaming Programmes said.

According to him the project will engage private tourism operators to create incentives to boost sustainable tourism practices by providing training and capacity building for key stakeholders, at community levels. According to the World Heritage Centre world heritage sites experienced a 66% drop in visits during 2021 and a 52% decline in ticket sales in 2020 as a result of Covid-19.

“The Covid-19 crisis has completely disrupted the travel and tourism economy. Although the full consequences for the tourism and culture sectors are not yet clear, the emerging consensus among policy makers and the tourism industry is that a return to ‘business as usual is unlikely. Tourism and heritage management authorities will therefore need to work together and learn from the Covid-19 crisis to build a stronger, more resilient global tourism economy for the future. Capacity development for improving management systems, new product development and interpretation will be key,” Chicalu said.

The Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture, and of Environment, Forestry and Tourism have a joint responsibility to promote sustainable cultural tourism in Namibia. This project will provide a platform for longer term investments in cultural heritage safeguarding, promoting sustainable tourism at World Heritage destinations while addressing immediate needs for employment creation among vulnerable groups in host communities in the heritage and tourism sector,” he said.




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