Tourism think tank resolves to find ways out of the seasonal bottleneck to improve revenues for the full year
During the tourist peak season, Namibian establishments can not handle the surge in visitors. But during the quiet season, the sector struggles to survive, facing low occupancy rates and severely diminished revenues.
Workable strategies to overcome this restrictive bottleneck will be one of the main goals of the annual congress hosted by the Hospitality Association of Namibia. Describing the major annual event as a tourism think tank, the association said this week the HAN Tourism Awards and congress is scheduled for next week, 21 and 22 June, in Swakopmund. The theme is Meeting of Minds to Discover the Hidden Gems of Namibia. The congress was launched earlier this week at an event where all the sponsors were named.
The association’s chief executive, Gitta Paetzold and its vice chairperson, Janet Wilson-Moore, said Namibia is often depicted by international operators and agents as the best sold-out destination, but that only applies during long holidays in Europe and the United States. When actual occupancy rates for the full year are reviewed, the notion quickly vanishes.
“We want to find new things to give to our tourists. The generational changes among tourists mean that they are looking for more meaningful experiences and interactions with the communities and environment around them. We want to be able to give new offerings and spread out the bookings into the off-peak season as there is a bottleneck,” Wilson-More stated.
Delegates at the annual congress will look critically at the many misconceptions prevalent in the sector, especially from outsiders. The overriding goal is to grow niche markets and label tourism, to continue growing the sector so that it can increase its socio-economic contribution and its direct injection to the economy. The association said it is estimated that tourism contributes about 15% to the overall economy, but this figure is notoriously difficult to substantiate since the sector straddles both the services and the retail segments.
Representing the main sponsor, Standard Bank, its Head of Business Banking, Karen van der Merwe said they recognise and appreciate the vital role of tourism in the economy. The bank sees the vast potential for growth that tourism offers, stating that this is the reason why it is a long-standing sponsoring partner of the Hospitality Association.
“The organisation has become a pillar in the hospitality and tourism industry because they work to influence policy making to optimise its growth,” she said adding that their relationships has come a long way. “Standard Bank is pleased to be on board to make the annual congress a reality with our sponsorship of N$80,000 this year,” she said.
The congress is also sponsored by Namibia Breweries, Air Namibia, Bannerman Resources and Marsh Namibia.
Caption: Karen van der Merwe (left), Standard Bank’s Head of Business Banking, and its Head of Marketing, Communication and CSR, Magreth Mengo (right) were delighted to hand their very substantial sponsorship to Janet Wilson-Moore, the vice chairperson of the Hospitality Association of Namibia, for its annual congress scheduled for next week Thursday and Friday in Swakopmund.