25 January 2013

Namibia: DMH, Show Society At Loggerheads Over Tourism Expo

THIS year may be the last that the 15-year-old tourism expo will be hosted at the Windhoek showgrounds.

For the past 10 years the exhibition in which about 400 exhibitors participate has been held at the showgrounds, but the organisers, Democratic Media Holdings (DMH), and the Windhoek Show Society, the owners of the venue, have disagreements over the lease agreement and the shape the expo should take.

The vice president of the Windhoek Show Society (WSS), Harald Schmidt, denied reports that the society and DMH were at loggerheads over the annual Namibia Travel and Tourism Show and that it would not allow the media group to host the event at its premises from next year.

Schmidt told The Namibian this week that the two partners had reached agreement on lease terms as well as the format the expo should have in future.

He said there had been an unwritten understanding with DMH in the past about how the expo should be presented as a specialised show.

"We agreed that it should be travel in line with tourism. However, the expo show had deviated into territory which did not meet this criteria to the point that it has become like the Windhoek Show," said Schmidt.

"It has contravened the terms of what a tourism and travel expo is and it has now come to the point that this needed to be addressed." He said on this basis continuous negotiations are taking place.

Asked what the definition of a tourism and travel expo is, Schmidt replied: "It's got nothing to do with you."

He however said that stricter criteria would be in place by 2014. These criteria will then determine whether the expo can still be held at the show grounds.

It is understood from well-placed sources that the show society wanted in on the expo and when it failed, it used the criteria issue as an excuse to muscle DMH out of the venue.

In a media statement, DMH's chief operations officer, Wolfram Jauss, said: "The Windhoek Show Society has informed DMH that it does not see its way open to commit to a medium- or long-term rental arrangement beyond 2013 under the current rental conditions. DMH and the Windhoek Show Society have however reached an agreement to consult with each other (after the 2013 Tourism Expo has been hosted) in order to try to mutually agree on a suitable platform and solution to host the 2014 Tourism Expo and all future expos thereafter."

He further stated that the DMH would continue hosting the Namibia Tourism Expo for as long as it provides a suitable platform for developing and promoting tourism and the related motor industry in Namibia.

DMH said the expo plans to offer a diversity of "tourism attractions, hospitality and related services and products catering for both domestic and foreign visitors and travellers."

This year's expo is scheduled to take place from May 29 to June 1.

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