Tourism ministry urged to privatise Wildlife Resorts
The chairperson of one of the regulatory bodies in the tourism sector has called on the government to privatise state-owned accommodation company, Namibia Wildlife Resorts (NWR).
In an interview with the Economist earlier this year, the tourism expert, who opted to remain anonymous, said NWR’s management of the camp sites and lodges across the country’s national parks has been nothing but a “disaster”. He said there are too many people employed by NWR with no productivity.
“I personally think we have to privatise. We have no service attitude in this country. We don’t have the attitude for promoting tourism by being efficient, productive and friendly,” he said.
“ Is NWR looking after the rest camps? They don’t. It is a total disaster because they can not do the maintenance, they don’t have this attitude of 24 hours/7 days on duty. They have this state mentality; I go to work at eight, tjaila and get home at five.”
He added that NWR should not continue to receive government budgetary support since the state-owned enterprise can be self sustaining given the resources at its disposal
“There is no way that the NWR must be helped by the government. They have enough resources, they can make a lot of money. Why are they still dependent on the government?, ” he asked.
He argued that the lack of service at NWR facilities has led to private establishments operating near the Etosha National Park to flourish.
“Up to three years ago we stayed inside the national park because it was nice. We sat at the water holes and the animals came there, it was so beautiful, but the complaints from the guests were so many we started staying outside at places like Mokuti and they flourished.”
He said guests complained about the state of the rest camps at Etosha comparing them to places like the old East Germany or East European countries.
“It looks like people don’t want to work. They get the pay, they eat and they are happy; they don’t want to perform. The service attitude of the people is non existent.”
He said NWR should be privatised and that prices for accommodation at the country’s national parks should be made cheaper for locals who have so far found it too expensive to stay at these establishments because they are expensive.
“When you privatise they must always be available to Namibians because the national parks belong to us. They are our heritage and we should have opportunities to go there at a cheaper rate.”
The chairperson praised former Tourism and Environment Minister Hon Nandi Netumbo Ndaitwah for her “huge” understanding of the tourism industry. He also praised Sam Shikongo, the Director of Tourism in the ministry for his knowledge and understanding.
He said the government needs to understand how important tourism is for the future development of this country.
“The director of tourism is all right and the former minister was all right, but I don’t think Home Affairs, the police and the Ministry of Finance understand tourism. There is a lack of understanding of this beautiful income generating industry and the many employment opportunities it can offer to so many Namibians.”