Namibia launches Etotha Carnival in a bid to revive tourism

Niël Terblanché

Namibia is gearing up to host its very first Etotha Carnival, an initiative that emerged as a response to rejuvenate the nation’s tourism sector, which suffered a significant setback due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Romeo Muyunda, spokesperson for the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism, unveiled the ambitious plan. He remarked that a collaborative effort involving the Ondonga Traditional Authority, Namibia Tourism Board, and other pivotal stakeholders is already underway to ensure that the carnival, slated for July 2024 will be an overwhelming success.

Drawing inspiration from the challenges posed by the pandemic, the event’s primary objective is to diversify tourism offerings. It will also seek to entice local travellers and simultaneously boost international tourist arrivals, thereby expanding its reach.

According to Muyunda, the core aim of the carnival is its emphasis on Namibian cultural and heritage diversity.

He said the event will be set against the breathtaking backdrop of the Etosha salt pans, specifically Kangonde in Onanke village of the Oshikoto region and it promises to be an outstanding spectacle.

As part of the preparations, a series of gala dinners are slated, the inaugural one being scheduled for the 28th of October at the Ondangwa Trade Exhibition Centre.

Muyunda said these dinners serve a dual purpose: to drum up excitement for the main event and to raise necessary funds.

He extended an open invitation to the business community, tourism sector, and individuals to purchase tickets, with a pricing tier ranging from N$20,000 for platinum to N$500 for individual tickets.

Beyond just cultural shows and displays, the carnival’s itinerary boasts an extensive mix of activities.

According to Muyunda, attendees can look forward to skydiving, Namibian traditional gastronomy cook-out competitions, horse riding, a totem parade, boma storytelling sessions, and traditional games like owela. Another notable attraction is the Oshiwambo traditional homestead display.

“This initiative aligns with the National Sustainable Tourism Growth and Development Strategy (2016-2026) and the Namibia Tourism Sector Recovery Plan (2022-2024),” he said

According to Muyunda, both strategies stress the significance of creating new tourism routes, expanding product offerings, and bolstering cultural and heritage tourism, especially to attract domestic tourists to the region.

He said the Etotha Carnival will embody Namibia’s renewed vision and commitment to its tourism sector and the event will ensure that the country remains a prime destination on the global tourism map.

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