NAMIBIA has sensational tourism assets, but there are some bottlenecks that are chocking the tourism industry.
This was said by World Bank official Hannah Messerli during the one-day World Bank and National Planning Commission (NPC) seminar on 'Policy Notes on Growth and Employment in Namibia' in Windhoek this week.
"Namibia has sensational tourism assets. It now requires a dynamic response that matches these assets and exploit them for economic development, with sure attention to social and environmental matters," she said.
Among the bottlenecks, Messerli singled out Government and parastatal institutions involved with tourism which have overlapping and conflicting mandates. "There is too much state involvement in commercial production," she reasoned, adding that corporate governance of state-owned enterprises is often ineffective.
Growth and innovation are also stifled, and investment is deterred.
Messerli further indicated that freehold land is expensive, procedures for leasing communal land are complicated, and securing concessions is not transparent.
"There are also insufficient tourism state-owned Enterprises and when Government is involved in running business, there are conflicts of interest and inefficiencies that impact the customer and distort the marketplace and minimise competitiveness," she said.
The World Bank official also highlighted narrow product offering as one of the blockages in the industry, urging careful management to ensure tourism development benefits rural communities and tourism investors, without negatively affecting tourism resources.
There is also a low level of skills in the country, she said, adding that unemployment is high, but the vast majority of the unemployed are unprepared for careers in tourism.
Messerli further stated that there is a severe gap between the skills the labour force currently has, and the skills it needs to enable small and medium enterprises to grow and prosper.
The National Planning Commission invited the World Bank to prepare a series of policy notes, analysing options for growth and employment in three key productive areas of the economy - tourism, livestock and meat as well as transport and trade logistics.
These are all sectors where Namibia has enjoyed a measure of success in international markets.
Namibia offers unique and attractive tourism products, landscapes, wildlife, peacefulness and indigenous culture.
It is the only country in the world where the black rhino population outside of protected areas is increasing, where free-roaming lion populations are increasing and where the entire coastline is protected.