More travellers are expressing interest in visiting and exploring Namibia as a tourist destination. This was made clear at the country’s exhibition pavilion at this year’s Africa’s Travel Indaba in Durban, which attracted a lot of visitors and enquiries about the destination. In an interview with VoyagesAfriq, the Head of Marketing, Namibia Tourism Board Charmaine Matheus said they were happy about the level of visitations and feedback they received at the tradeshow.
“One of our key source markets is the United States and we’ve been getting a lot of enquiries from people from the USA. And, from other African countries as well; Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, and Ghana, especially, with our CEO just returning from a destination engagement session in Ghana. We see a lot of interest coming from our African counterparts.”
She added that NTB was particularly delighted with the many discussions on partnerships and collaboration geared towards not just promoting Namibia, but Africa’s tourism.
Charmaine explained: “We have had a very interesting discussion with the African Tourism Board. You can see the interest in partnerships and liaising, working together as a unit and a continent as opposed to silos. So, we say we are not necessarily competing with each other, but the idea is to make sure that we bring the travellers into the continent so that everyone can benefit from that and also grow the base with domestic and intra-African travel.”
Despite the growing interest, travel to Namibia for many, remains a headache as visa application and acquisition pose a great hurdle. The Head of Marketing acknowledging this continent-wide problem maintained that there have been ongoing discussions to liberalise the country’s visa application process to allow for interested persons to visit.
“For us, we wish to open the borders and welcome everyone freely into Namibia, but obviously together with the Ministry, we understand that there are protection mechanisms that need to be put in place to make sure that we understand who is entering the country when and for what purposes. But the Ministries, especially, our Home Affairs do have initiatives in place to try and mitigate the challenges that people are currently experiencing with regard to visas. For example, online visa applications that make the cumbersome process a bit more flexible.
“From the Tourism Board, we are also, in some cases able to assist and facilitate to ensure that people who are really showing keen interest in visiting the destination do get their visas. We also do have discussions with the embassies within and outside the borders of Namibia jus to find out what are the key challenges and how really can we assist to mitigate them” Charmaine maintained.
As part of efforts to sell the country’s tourism to its source markets, the NTB will from next month June, commence a series of roadshows in selected European countries with a familiarization trip also planned for Ghanaian tour operators and travel agents.
Story by Samuel Obeng Appah