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The business of tourism

Eloise Du Plessis, the Country Manager of Business Partners International Namibia.

Eloise Du Plessis, the Country Manager of Business Partners International Namibia.

Tourism is one of the largest industries in Namibia and is considered one of the major booster of the economy. With Namibia becoming a destination of choice for sporting, business and cultural events, a wide range of opportunities exist for entrepreneurs in the travel and tourism industry.
There is a common misconception that the tourism industry is mainly about providing accommodation to tourists, such as guesthouses, lodges, bed and breakfasts, hotels, camping sites, etc. In this article we explore the various sectors one can capitalise on, if you are considering your own tourism business.
The tourism industry comprises many segments, including:
Transport
The transport sector deals with transporting tourists (both domestic and international). This can be done in and around Namibia by, e.g. airlines, shuttles, trains, buses, ships, taxis, etc.
If your business involves transporting tourists, certain licenses are essential, both in terms of vehicle and driver criteria. Apart from the usual vehicle requirements, i.e. roadworthy certificates, registration and licensing, you need a Public Road Carrier Permit for your vehicle(s) before you may transport passengers for reward.
Travel Agents
A travel agent is a licensed travel product retailer that provides travel information, reservations and other forms of assistance to consumers, companies and groups in making travel arrangements. The main function of the agent is to sell the temporary use of transport (air, rail, road and water), accommodation, tours and other associated services.
As a travel agent you can offer a wealth of information and experience to tourists. Travel agents can assist tourists with flights to and from Namibia and her neighbouring countries, as well as special package tours, day trips, transportation and any other travel needs they might have.
Tour Operators
A tour operator is an individual or organisation in the business of (bulk) buying, and then bundling, the various components make up a package holiday, for sale via a travel agent or direct to the consumer. The tour operator transports paying tourists on scheduled itineraries and make arrangements for their clients in terms of accommodation, transport and excursions. These businesses often own vehicles to transport tourists and the owners of these enterprises often accompany tour parties.
There are three categories of tour operators:
In-bound tour operators: provide services mainly for foreign visitors; Out-bound tour operators: provide services to clients in Namibia wishing to travel to destinations outside the country; Local tour operators provide services to domestic clients for tours within Namibia.  Tour operators provide tailor-made tour packages and daily excursions of the region being visited. Whether the tourist is a seasoned traveller to Namibia or visiting for the first time, they can enjoy the diversity of this region with the security, convenience, flexibility and knowledge that these professional companies offer.

Tour Guides
In a country such as Namibia, where transport is not so easily accessible for tourists, an opportunity for tour guides exists to get tourists around to various destinations.
A tour guide is any qualified person who, for monetary or other reward, accompanies people who are travelling through any place within the country and furnishes those people with information or comments regarding the places or objects visited. Professional Namibian tour guides provide personal attention and the experience and knowledge of Namibia that only a native can offer. Tourists can opt to see well-known Namibian tourist attractions or visit “off the beaten track” locations, which enable them to experience the “real” Namibia while sampling local hospitality and avoiding the mass tourist routes. As a tourism business specialising in the tour guiding industry, there are various regulations which the business owner and guides need to comply with. Make sure you know what these are.
Hospitality (accommodation and food & beverages)
This sector deals with provision of accommodation, e.g. bed and breakfast, guesthouse, self-catering, youth back-packer hostels, motel, hotel, etc. If you open or run an accommodation establishment, restaurant, coffee shop, pub, tavern or shebeen where food is served, you must have a valid business or trade licence.
This allows you to carry out a particular activity in a certain area, and ensures that your business and the premises meet all of the building, public safety and health requirements. Trading without a licence is a punishable offence. As with tour guiding, there are various regulations which the hospitality business owner needs to comply with.
MICE
The acronym MICE stands for (Meetings Incentives Conferences Exhibitions / Events) and is defined as the gathering of people in the most succinct and acceptable manner worldwide. The MICE industry is often overlooked, but the need for this kind of business in tourism is becoming more essential. The primary objective of this sector is to arrange and/or host meetings and other events such as exhibitions.
Tourist attractions
With an array of destinations to visit, there is much for tourists to see and do. They can visit Namibia’s attractions on day excursions with the added benefit of the experience and knowledge of a professional guide. There is a select group of professional guides who can also arrange various adventure, leisure and sporting activities. The options are endless and can be tailored to your personal interests and budget. Putting all of the above components together constitutes a tourism product that can be marketed internationally, thus creating a great tourism business. So what do you think? Does the tourism industry sound like one you’d fit into?

Next Week
Eloise looks at start-up costs for tourism accommodation establishments.

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