For 25 years Gondwana Collection Namibia has been at the fore of hospitality and tourism excellence, providing bespoke and unforgettable experiences to clients and guests. But at the core of this, is a brand that puts people first and remains a stickler for enduring values and culture.
A true testament of this is shown in the company’s continuous retention of its staff strength in the midst of the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic when layoffs have become rife.
“One thing we are extremely proud of is that during this pandemic we have not retrenched a single person. We have almost 1,100 Namibians in our employees and we are very much rural-based. We are based in the villages out there and we understand our impact and responsibility, so we are really proud that we could have our people and culture intact and obviously our company intact throughout this pandemic,” said Managing Director, Gys Joubert who took his turn on the VA Tourism Podcast with Kojo Bentum-Williams.
He revealed that the pandemic has presented the biggest challenge to their operations which necessitated austerity measures such as salary cuts with members of the Executive Management taking the biggest cut.
Added to that, Joubert said, “We feel our role and responsibility in this nation is more than just a company in terms of business and profit-driven. We have a responsibility as a responsible corporate citizen to our fellow Namibians and to have an impact whenever we can. And I think our key trust speaks a lot to that, we have so many projects in terms of providing meals to the least fortunate people and many other projects.”
He said that the hospitality brand could not be prouder of their Namibian roots and identity. “We are very proud of who we are, as a proudly Namibian company; Namibian born and Namibian raised. So that to us is very important; our positioning and responsibility as a Namibian corporate citizen. Yes, 25 years with humble beginnings in the far south and we’ve grown organically over the years and especially the brand and what the brand stands for, and I think that is always important, and the values and the culture,” the MD emphasized.
The Gondwana Collection Namibia combines its hospitality business with nature conservation and social commitment in a sustainable manner all over the Sothern African country. Beyond that, however, Joubert said they have plans and dreams to expand.
“We have a whole lot of ambition both in terms of further expansion in Namibia, we have a lot of plans in terms of digital expansion, digital offerings that we want to bring to the world and then also regional expansion and further in the value chain to make sure that we can be that complete one-stop shop in terms of tourism services and also in terms of a responsible company that people can feel a part of as one that makes a real contribution in the world in addition to our communities and environment.
“We own a property in Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe and we had plans to start developing that last year already but obviously because of the pandemic we had to put everything on ice. The rest is more of exploration but digitally and digital has made the world a small place and we will bring quite a few things to the market in the next six months on that track,” he disclosed.
Properties within the Collection have all been given Covid safety certifications and this Joubert explains is a testament to the seriousness with which they are committed to ensuring the safety of guests
“We just received certification of one of our hotels where we scored 100%. So we are very proficient in terms of our Covid protocols. We also bring to hospitality the Gondwana warmness and kindness so we are definitely providing a safe environment for our guests.”
Namibia, he said, has always been wide open spaces with natural social distancing “so, in terms of what the future of tourist, especially in the short and middle term look for, solitude, safety, and I think Gondwana is perfectly positioned to provide a breakaway. Come and see the African kind of experience in Namibia; people and our wildlife. But you can do that in the comfort of your own vehicle, self-drive on safe roads with vast distances. So it’s not a crowded destination and we are well positioned in that regard.”
In addition to this, Joubert expects the Gondwana brand to bring true and holistic humanity to the corporate world in Namibia and beyond it.
Story by Samuel Obeng Appah