Overseas marketing key factor in Tourism success – HAN
The Hospitality Association of Namibia (HAN) earlier this week held their annual multi-faced tourism networking event titled “On the tourism highway”, which included a congress of information sharing and debate on international tourism trends and Namibia’s strategic marketing plans for 2016 peak season and 2017.
In an interview with the Economist, Gitta Paetzhold, the CEO of HAN explained that the media launch included the Tourism Congress, Trade Forum and Awards Gala. The congress was followed by a 2 day HAN Tourism Trade Forum during which services in tourism present themselves at trade tables to their key partners in the tour operating and marketing sector to negotiate deals, prices and bookings for the tourism season 2017. “Tourism packages that are prepared for the global market are finalized up to 18 months prior, meaning that prices, products, routes etc, will be offered to the international market for take up in 2018, are now already being worked on.” she explained.
Paetzhold said that it is very important that the Namibian tourism sector aligns itself to the trends and demands/expectations of the global market as HAN would like to offer its events as a platform for discussions, co-operation and agreements to take place.
With regard to growth in the sector, the chief executive said that Namibia has recorded the highest occupancy rates in 10 years as the months of August and September, – peak season revealed a growth of 15%, as the trend seems to be continuing in October.
She detailed that HAN is truly proud and satisfied with the results, saying “in particular the Namibia Tourism Board Frankfurt office (at the base of Namibia’s largest source market / Central Europe), with very limited funds, has managed to conclude joint venture deals and strategic partnership agreements with influential media houses, travel agents and operators,that help put Namibia on the map as travel destination of choice around the globe.” she enthused.
Apart from effective marketing, it was mentioned that the currency exchange rate to the US$ and the Euro put Namibia in a favourable more affordable position, in terms of costs of travel.
Paetzhold said that the tourism sector’s major challenges at the moment include ways of improving service excellence, as she said that HAN is engaging with the Customer Services Association of Namibia on ways of achieving service excellence in our service sector.
Furthermore, she appealed to the Vocational Training sector to focus on
training opportunities for young Namibians to gain skills in good customer service, as such skills are required and beneficial to all economic spheres, as well as in the public and private sector.
In the culmination the chief executive warned that the tourism sector is a very volatile sector, and is very dependent on outside influences, such as political stability, health issues, and crime. “Safety is a key factor of any tourism destination, and a country and all stakeholders, including law enforcement offices and authorities should jealously guard the status of safe destination.” she stressed.