New Era (Windhoek)

8 February 2013

Namibia: More Kudos for Conservation and Tourism

Windhoek — Namibia's conservation and tourism sector steals the limelight again with the appointment of its conservation and tourism expert Maxi Louis to the global advisory board of the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA).

Louis's depth of experience working with communities in Namibia to utilise their natural resources in a sustainable manner directly supports ATTA's mission to drive the adventure travel industry to grow responsibly. The continent of Africa, which is expected to grow its GDP to US$29 trillion by 2050, offers vast opportunities for emerging destinations.

Namibia's predominant conservancy model allows private enterprises to work with government on community-based tourism. ATTA said with this model, wildlife-rich Africa has tremendous potential for sustainable economic growth that can benefit rural communities, natural areas all the while conserving and coexisting with wildlife.

Over the last 15 years, Louis has worked on a Community-Based Natural Resources Management (CBNRM) programme with the Namibian government and non-government agencies, focusing on providing quality services to rural communities that seek to manage and utilise their natural resources sustainably.

"Asking Maxi Louis to join our board was a natural extension of our global approach to responsible adventure tourism development," Shannon Stowell, President of ATTA says. According to Stowell, Louis brings to the industry deep knowledge of community-based tourism and a unique perspective of Africa. "As a founding member of the Namibia Community Based Tourism Association, we believe her contributions to the ATTA community, like in Namibia, will lead to the proliferation of innovative and inclusive solutions that consider the success of the community, land and wildlife as a whole," the ATTA president added.

"I'm passionate about working with communities in rural areas - 80 percent of land in Africa is home to wildlife, natural resource users and poor communities that cannot be ignored by our decision-makers," Louis said. According to Louis, tourism and conservation as partners have made these significant changes in rural Namibia, and she believes it can be used as one of the tools to address issues of development in Africa.

Louis is a founder member of the Namibia Community Based Tourism Association and was instrumental in the development and implementation of CBRNM related policies, instrumental in the development of Community Based Tourism Enterprises (CBTE) strategies; facilitated the process of campsite and joint venture initiatives; and involved in networking activities with stakeholders in the private sector, including government, communities and other decision-makers.

Namibia, one of the few countries in the world with conservation and environmental management mandated in its constitution will host the 2013 Adventure Travel World Summit during October 26-31, 2013. Delegates from around the world will gather for six days in hosting towns Windhoek and Swakopmund.

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