The local hospitality industry is set to rake in an estimated N$315 million within the oncoming months from the five international conferences scheduled to take place in Windhoek. International institutions are choosing Namibia as the host country for conferences, with the Deputy Minister of Environment and Tourism, Pohamba Shifeta, confirming that Namibia has become a favourable destination for international conferences. One of the biggest conferences scheduled is the 10th anniversary of the Adventure Travel World Summit, which for the first time is to take place on African soil.
Namibia was selected to host the Adventure Travel World Summit because of the country’s success story in wildlife conservancy. “Many countries learn from our national resource management programmes,” said Shifeta, adding that other countries learn how Namibian communities benefit and manage wildlife and the environment.
There are five international conferences scheduled to take place in Namibia this year. A rough calculation by New Era (newspaper) indicates that the hospitality and tourism industry would earn as much as N$315 million from those conferences. The earnings are based on the fact that each of the conferences would have an estimated delegates of about 1 500 people, of whom each is expected to spend as much as N$3 000 per day, for an average of 14 days for each of the five conferences. The estimated daily spending figure was availed by Conference Link, the local conference management company that organizes many of the international events in the country.
|Fast facts about Namibia’s Tourism Industry:|
|Estimated income over the next few months||N$315 million|
|5 International conferences in Namibia||10th Adventure Travel World Summit
11th Conference of Parties to UNCCD
IWA Water Reuse Conference
World Indigenous Business Forum
Southern African Inter-Municipal Games
|Number of delegates expected for each conference||1 500|
|Amount each delegate is expected to spend||N$3 000 per day|
|Average number of days per conference||14|
Executive member at Conference Link, Marelise Serfontein, says the average spending of N$3 000 per person per day excludes airfare to Namibia. “A conference delegate spends twice to three times the amount an ordinary tourist spends,” said Serfontein. She nevertheless emphasizes that the figures are estimates and not based on proper research.
Serfontein says more than 10 sectors benefit from the hospitality industry and the industry creates a lot of opportunities for development . “It is a low inset of the capital industry and even the unskilled labour force benefits,” she said.
Shifeta said the Adventure Travel Trade Association selected Namibia because the country “impressed tourism in the world,” and other countries duplicate what is being done in Namibia. “[Wildlife] poaching has gone down due to committees that maintain and protect wildlife,” he added.
Shifeta says most of the accommodation has already been booked for the pre-summit on October 26, where approximately 3 000 national and international delegates will visit around the country. The summit will open on October 29 in Swakopmund. “Namibia will be exposed to the tourism industry as a result,” he said. Worldwide tour operators will be in the country from international associations and companies.
He estimated that thousands of dollars would be spent in the country seeing that delegates would stay for over 20 days for the summit. The summit is also expected to benefit local SMEs and artists. SMEs benefit from providing conference bags, transport, accommodation, entertainment, arts and crafts and catering services.
Another conference to be held in Namibia is the 11th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) from September 16 to 27. According to Shifeta, this summit was offered to Namibia to host due to its good policies on climate and the implementation thereof. “Namibia was seen as an ideal venue to host the conference,” he said.
According to Serfontein the other conferences taking place in Namibia this year are the IWA Water Reuse Conference on October 27 to 31 in Windhoek, the World Indigenous Business Forum on October 15 to 18 in Windhoek and the Southern African Inter-Municipal Games on September 20 to 28 in Swakopmund.
“It has become customary to provide conference delegates with an option of pre and post conference tours. Tour operators normally create packages for specific conference delegates. This has a lot of potential to grow this market,” said Serfontein.
“From the conferences we are working on, we have realised that October will be a high occupancy season, most of the hotels have already been provisionally booked,” emphasised Serfontein.
Serfontein elaborated that Namibia has political stability, good infrastructure, a well organised society and business infrastructure, great weather, friendly people, unique experiences, clean cities, good roads, telecommunications as well as emergency services in terms of enhancing the potential of business tourism in the country.
However, some of the challenges faced in business tourism are the fact that there is no purpose-built facility in the country. “We do have conference venues that can accommodate conferences, but in order for us to attract more international conferences, we should have this facility,” said Serfontein.
Another challenge she highlighted is air travel seeing that Namibia only has a limited fixed number of flights coming into the country. “We cannot fly more people in for conferences at a time,” she said, adding that possible areas of improvement are skills development, marketing and positioning Namibia as a business tourism destination.
Date: 14 July 2013