HAN congress ends on high note
The forum,which consisted of a congress held on 21 November and the annual HAN tourism awards on 28 November, serves as a networking platform for the local tourism industry where all stakeholders, service providers, operators and marketing specialists are granted the opportunity to share ideas, discuss problems, look at new trends and introduce new programmes to ensure the local industry remains abreast of international developments.
The theme for 2013 was “”Tourism, – translating Namibia to the world!” and according to HAN’s CEO Gitta Paetzold, about 120 local delegates as well as some operators from Zimbabwe and South Africa attended the forum.
“In selecting presenters for the congress, we targeted not only people in tourism direct, but true to our motto of “tourism is everybody’s business”, included huge brands such as NBL, who also contribute greatly to “putting Namibia on the global map”. Team Namibia shared its vision on branding Namibia and encouraging local and foreign support of things “Made in Namibia,” said Paetzold.
The Millenium Challenge Account (MCA-Namibia ) also shared its plans and visions for Destination-Marketing for Namibia after the MCA programme comes to an end in 2014. “MCA-Namibia shared ideas with the tourism industry on how the latter could take hands to ensure continuation of the North-American Destination Marketing that was kick-started by MCA some four years ago,” she said.
A representative from World Travel Market (WTA) gave advice to local operators on new options for international marketing and trade fairs, through WTM Africa, thus making participation more affordable to the local industry.
The congress ended with a presentation from Marsh Namibia on the right products to ensure travel safety and international standards on liability insurance, as well as a presentation from the Environmental Investment Fund on its aims to support sustainable tourism development in Namibia.
At a glittering event held after the congress, tour operators were awarded at the annual HAN Awards of Excellence. The awards are determined by guests staying at the various establishments and submitting online ratings for the places they stayed in. These score-sheets are submitted to the HAN website, and evaluated at the end of October every year.
Paetzold explains the procedure: “Depending on the scores received, the number of winners are determined by the number of rating sheets submitted for them, and the average scores given, merit awards going to those that achieve an average score of just below 80%, bronze from 80 to 89%; silver is 90 to 94% and gold above 95%.”
This year’s winner of the HAN Personality of the Year award is Janet Wilson-Moore of the Swakopmund Hotel & Entertainment Centre. Hotelier of the Year went to Wolfgang Balzar of Hotel Thule and the coveted Tourism Personality of the Year was awarded to Mattias Lemcke, the NTB Marketing Manager, Europe. “What makes the nomination of this year’s recipient special is the fact that this person is not a Namibian! What’s more, he spends most of his time outside Namibia, and yet, is probably more dedicated, committed and engaged in the active promotion of Namibia’s tourism industry than many Namibians put together,”Paetzold noted.