Critical look at Omusati tourism
A recent in-depth tourism conference that investigated the potential for tourism in Omusati Region, set the stage for further development of this sector. Afterwards, delegates expressed their appreciation for the quality of the discussions, and the substance of the presentations. The conference was widely seen as a huge success. Hon Uahekua Herunga, Minister of Environment and Tourism opened the tourism conference that was held in the Omusati Region at the University of Namibia Ongongo Campus. Hon Herunga said that there is need to consider how tourism can be better managed and how to increase tourist flows to heritage sites in the region. He added that it is important to understand that benefits will not come without commitment and that there is a need to understand what tourists want, and how the tourism industry works, particularly its needs, its demands and its characteristics. Key issues were discussed in detail during several workshops making up the larger conference programme. Participants resolved that there are various issues and challenges facing tourism development in the region.
Some of the issues raised at the workshop was that there needs to be more communication and information sharing between stakeholders, as well as a general improvement of infrastructure , and finally, to get more young people and school leavers who are looking for opportunities, involved. It was also resolved that consultation should be arranged with the Ministry of Lands with a follow-up workshop on communal land issues and its impact on investment. Another workshop looked at strategies to develop a tourism investor programme and later to organise an investor conference, with the Ministry of Trade and Industry, the local private sector and international investors. There is also a need to sensitise the community on tourism and to encourage the youth to take up foreign languages to service tourism source markets. Various other issues were discussed and the resolutions serve as rough action plan to take the outcome of the workshops further, but it was clear to all that the various regions must work together as a Tourism Unit since tourism is cross-cutting and all regions stand to benefit or lose from the activities of one region. Hon Herunga said the conference provided the opportunity to discuss these issues and to find ways and means to address them and to benefit from tourism growth and development. He expressed the hope that the Omusati Region can take the lead and become know as the one region in Namibia that takes tourism serious and reaps the benefits in the interest of its inhabitants.