THE executive director in the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism, Teofilus Nghitila, said young people have a key role to play in reviving the tourism sector.
Nghitila was speaking during the fourth edition of the Africa Youth in Tourism Innovation Summit and Challenge in Windhoek recently.
"Let us as a government, private sector and stakeholders do our utmost to enable the youth to be agents of change and recovery for the sector, and to be strong advocates for sustainable tourism," he said.
Nghitila said they must leverage strong global partnerships to fully empower the youth in tourism.
"We must facilitate financial support towards youth-led small business enterprises and support them to drive the tourism sector forward, particularly in the area of digital technology which is changing the way in which the tourist interacts with and experiences the destinations," he said.
Nghitila said there is a need to embrace the positive change and capitalise on it.
"I would like to encourage the African youth to build networks and initiate productive business relations, partnerships and make economic linkages that will lead to the formation of viable enterprises in the travel and tourism value chain across Africa," he said.
Nghitila said tourism is an industry that is dynamic and continuously evolving, with lots of emerging opportunities in the digital social space.
United Nations resident coordinator Sen Pang said the Covid-19 pandemic has had a devastating effect on the tourism sector.
"It has painfully exposed the social-economic fault lines of the triple challenges of poverty, inequality and unemployment.
The closure of borders and the absence of international and national tourists have had a major impact on the economies of all countries," he said.
Peng said the summit was established to nurture Africa's youth, start-ups, small enterprises and accelerator initiatives to pursue opportunities across global tourism.
"Young people are a major human resource for development and key agents for social change, economic growth and technological innovation.
"Africa has a unique opportunity to invest in its young human capital and reap the potential social and economic benefits," he said.
Peng said this is the right time to engage with the youth to contribute to the acceleration of the economic recovery and rebuild a robust tourism industry that is resilient and sustainable.
"With these words I would like to reaffirm the commitment of the United Nations system in Namibia to continue evidence-based advocacy, policy engagement, partnership and programme initiatives to develop and empower youth and innovative entrepreneurship solutions for inclusive tourism in Namibia," he said.