Namibia: Lira's Tourism Ambassadorial Gig Causes Uproar Among Namibians

19 October 2020

Many locals have come out guns blazing, refusing to accept that South African songsters Lerato Molapo, known as Lira, has been identified as the first Namibian Tourism Ambassador, part of Federation of Namibian Tourism Associations (FENATA)'s Travel Ambassador initiative.

FENATA incorporates different tourism products in Namibia, comprising tour operators, accommodation facilities, car hire and community-based tourism enterprises, professional hunters, businesses selling commodities to tourists, tourism products within Communal Conservancies, travel agents, tour guides and protected desert areas.

Locals took it to social media to disapprove the discussion, labelling it as disappointing and inconsiderate, and A big insult to Namibia as a whole.

Brand strategist Kalistu Mokoroli said he is trying to understand why Lira is Namibia's tourism ambassador, and businesswoman Maria Nepembe questioned: "South Africa has an approach where they invite African celebrities and take them on tours around the country, something I feel could have been done to Lira instead of being the tourism ambassador".

Spotting some comments, vloggers like the Twinfluencers (Liselle and Lisette So-Oabes), Woven, Ndapanda Haininga are more deserving of being tourism ambassadors for the amazing work they have been doing in promoting the country's tourism in their vlogging.

Actor and MC Adriano Visagie cringed at the difficulty of a Namibian creative to getting a mere feature in a South African newspaper or a magazine.

"How do we, in turn, support our local tourism if Namibian faces can't be made Ambassadors of its own products? The whole Lira thing is a 'no' for me. If this is about clout, then get Namibians with the same amount of followers," he posted.

Lira told Entertainment Now! she spent the last six months in Namibia by choice and had the opportunity to experience many parts of the country.

"Namibia is beautiful in a way we never knew, so I feel like I discovered a gem and had the most amazing six months. I have had the experience. I have probably experienced way more than some Namibians," she sarcastically said.

She said Namibia is nature at its best. "I love the night skies - it is untampered. I feel like Namibians respect mother earth and that's what I am going to be promoting it. It is grounding and connecting in a very spiritual way. It's beautiful; you can never get over Namibia".

Although many oppose the idea of Lira being the tourism ambassador, others thought the idea could benefit the economy greatly if properly utilised.

Owner and head of Lefa Transport Service Melkisedek Ausiku, an avid tourism enthusiast, said with his experience in the industry, the population alone cannot sustain the tourism industry - even if prices dropped to their lowest.

"It still won't be enough. Therefore, attracting as many foreign visitors is the only hope to revive and sustain our tourism industry," he mentioned in a tweet, further saying to have Lira as a tourism an ambassador does make sense.

"There is a huge untapped market of young South Africans who have probably exhausted their usual exotic destinations, who could possibly have Namibia as their next destination," he shared.

Journalist Gordon Joseph took it to Facebook that from a marketing perspective, Lira being appointed as a brand ambassador makes sense.

"She has global visibility and her brand is amazing. I get the outcry; I am sure many local celebrities will be effective in promoting domestic travelling, but I guess the aim here is to promote Namibia outside of Namibia. If I was a strategist for the campaign, I would have also gone for Lira or sprint sensation Wayde van Niekerk," admitted Joseph - psiririka@nepc.com.na

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