Namibia to Host United Nations World Tourism Organization Regional Conference in June

Namibia will host the United Nations World Tourism Organization Regional Conference on Strengthening Brand Africa for the Swift Recovery of the Tourism Sector from the 14 to 16 June in Windhoek.

The United Nations World Tourism Regional Director for Africa, Ms. Elcia Grandcourt, has been present in Namibia this past week undertaking a planning mission for the Conference, the Minister of Environment, Tourism and Forestry, Pohamba Shifeta said on Thursday.

Shifeta said it is expected that approximately 100 to 150 people will participate at the conference, mainly representatives from national tourism and destination management organizations, officials from ministries responsible for tourism from African countries as well as representatives of Micro and SMEs.

The conference will be attended by the Secretary General of the UNWTO and it is anticipated that several ministers responsible for tourism from various African countries will also attend the Conference.

"It is well known that the tourism sector has been one of the most hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic at the national and regional level. The closure of borders and cross border restrictions on travel over the past year or so has had a terrible impact on direct and indirect beneficiaries of the tourism sector such as hotels, communal conservancies, travel agents, airlines, vehicle rental companies, tour operators, hunting operators as well as restaurants and entertainment facilities targeting tourists. In Namibia alone, we have seen a reduction of approximately 90% in visitors to our top tourism attractions such as Sossusvlei and Etosha National Park" he said.

Shifeta said the theme of the conference; 'Strengthening Brand Africa for the Swift Recovery of the Tourism Sector', is fully in line with the International Tourism Revival Initiative announced by HE President, Dr. Hage Geingob in June 2020 and will represent another important step in reviving the sector here at home and more broadly at the continental level.

The conference will focus on national and regional branding to enhance the image of Africa as a tourist destination and for enhancing the digital marketing skills of micro and small and medium tourism enterprises, particularly here in Namibia, Shifeta said.

"All too often we see the image of Africa portrayed in a negative light in the media, we are painted as the continent that is home to wars, poverty and forced emigration. This conference will play an important part in positioning Africa as a tourism destination of choice based on its rich cultures, spectacular scenery and wildlife as well as other attractions. This repositioning will assist the Continent as the tourism sector reopens and recovers from the impacts of the pandemic," he added.

Furthermore he said the conference will play a direct role in empowering and improving the marketing skills of micro and small and medium enterprises operating in the tourism sector, particularly here in Namibia.

The conference is being hosted by the ministry in collaboration with Namibia Tourism Board.

More From: Namibia Economist

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