Windhoek — The Adventure Travel World Summit (ATWS) slated for Namibia could be the best opportunity that any country could ask for to market itself as a tourism destination of choice.
The unique opportunity that comes to Africa for the first time befalls Namibia, thanks to its internationally acclaimed and world-renowned tourism model. Namibia is one of only a few countries in the world with conservation and environmental management mandated in its constitution. The country's approach to conservation is holistic and inclusive, both in terms of maintaining ecological integrity and the rights of communities to benefit from the country's abundant natural resources.
Globally, Namibia is recognised as a leader in community-based conservation and has generated such prestigious recognition as the 2012 Markhor Award for Outstanding Conservation Performance in recognition of its exceptional wildlife conservation programmes. "It is your chance to make a statement to the world and share with the world a model that works when those 700 people come to Namibia," the Vice-President of the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA), Chris Doyle, said during a preparatory meeting held on Tuesday to explain what the summit is all about and how Namibia could leverage all the opportunities presented by its hosting the event.
The summit has great marketing value for the host country as it attracts tourism executives from around the world, who specialise in adventure tourism, including nature, wildlife, volunteer tourism, adventure sports as well as ecotourism. It also attracts different tourism operators, media, tourism boards as well as airline representatives to discuss global industry issues. The vice-president of ATTA who was full of praise for Namibia said the country is one of the beacons in the world of sustainable tourism management.
"The people in Namibia's tourism sector talk about unity, teamwork, partnership and these are not only words, but Namibians actually live these concepts. The cooperation and support in Namibia's tourism is tremendous," Doyle said. He said ATTA wants to honour and showcase Namibia's conservation success.
"There is wisdom coming out of Namibia. It's not the perfect model, but it is really getting close to perfect," Doyle was of the opinion. He said during the summit controversial issues such as seal culling and mining in protected areas will be discussed.
"These topics have to be faced and we cannot shy away from them," he added. During Tuesday's meeting, a panel discussion was held, where international journalists shared their experiences on how to leverage opportunities presented by the summit and provided their own perspectives, including insights about how best to make a successful pitch to the media. The international journalists advised the sector, especially accommodation establishments to improve on Wifi hotspots, or Internet access, while putting emphasis more on cultural tourism.
The ATWS Online Booking Portal was also unveiled at the occasion. More than half the expected guests, about 360 have already registered for the summit. First National Bank has donated N$500 000 towards the hosting of the event, to assist local operators to capitalise on every opportunity the summit presents to promote Namibia as one of the preferred adventure destinations in the world.
"We know that tourism in Namibia gives Namibians across the country access to training, sustainable jobs, the building of infrastructure in communal conservancies and innovatively contributes to the positive image of Namibia abroad," FNB Chief Executive Officer, Ian Leyenaar, said when handing over the donation.
The ATWS will be held from October 26 to 31 in Windhoek and in Swakopmund.