‘It will not be business as usual’ – //Naobeb

By Jeremiah Ndjoze

CHIEF Executive Officer (CEO) of the Namibia Tourism Board (NTB), Digu //Naobeb says there will be a need for a serious paradigm shift in the approach to the management of tourism entities in the country.
This, if this sector is to weather the storm in the current and post Covid-19 era.
Speaking to Confidente in wide-ranging interview recently, //Naobeb maintained that should there be a slight improvement in the management of the prevalent pandemic, it will not be business as usual for entities in the tourism industry.
“There are limitations and challenges that we (NTB) are foreseeing, going forward. It goes without saying that the tourism landscape in Namibia will be forever changed,” //Naobeb said.
The veteran administrator foresees a change of guard or management style, particularly for tourism orientated ventures that have been operating for the past 30 to 40 years citing that, ‘if they do not close down entirely, they might opt to ditch their tried and tested business formulas for more innovative business approaches’.
This according to //Naobeb might present a situation where new businesses will spring up, with new business models and this could present new opportunities.
“The bottom line is that changes to the tourism sector’s landscape are unavoidable given this situation and it will require people to become creative and to adjust to changes, as well as new trends,” he added.

DOMESTIC TOURISM
//Naobeb hinted that the establishment of a domestic tourism industry can be a solution but the population element will be a detrimental factor in the case of Namibia. He maintained that Namibia does not have the share-value when one considers the size of its population and worse, the travelling patterns of Namibian holidaymakers are likely to hinder the flow of business.
“Our travelling patterns are another factor. Namibians mostly travel over weekends. This means that tourism establishments will remain white elephants during weekdays and therein lies another challenge,” //Naobeb stressed.
While the NTB can explore ways through which it can negotiate with the tourism industry in order to provide special rates to locals, this might result in negative financial impacts on the already financially beleaguered tourism establishments.

RAY OF HOPE
He however hailed the country’s revised Tourism Safety Protocols and Guidelines as one of the best documents of its kind to have emanated from a tourism regulatory body the world over.
With this development, //Naobeb says, Namibia is set to stand out as a destination of choice for international holidaymakers, post lockdown period.
The revision of the document was necessitated by the prevalence of the Covid-19 pandemic, which caught the industry unprepared.
In order to convince the government to relax some set travel restrictions and to ensure that the sector remained active, it was imperative for the industry players to convince the government that safety measures at travel establishments are in place.
“To do that we had to come up with a Tourism Safety Protocol and Guidelines document that looks at all the touch points, be it from the tour operators or car rental companies to the accommodation establishments,” //Naobeb said.
He added that with this document the NTB worked very closely with the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) as well as the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC). The latter, as well as, the former organisations reviewed the document in order to bring it to the desired international standards, according to //Naobeb.
“It is one of the achievements that we pride ourselves in. It is of such an international standard that even international companies are lauding us for having achieved it. We continue to encourage travel companies to embrace and enforce it accordingly,” //Naobeb stressed adding that bringing this document to life has put Namibia at centre stage in terms of its commitment to ensuring both the safety and hygiene of the travellers and that of the operators.