NTB determined to save jobs amidst Covid
By Jeremiah Ndjoze
THE tourism industry in Namibia – as is the case across the world – remains one of the hardest hit by the coronavirus and while the leaders of this industry are doing whatever they can to minimise the impact of the scourge on workers within the sector, there is no guarantee that all jobs will be saved.
These are sentiments of the chief executive officer of the Namibia Tourism Board (NTB), Digu //Naobeb. The long serving administrator made these remarks during an exclusive interview with Confidente.
//Naobeb reemphasised that as a parastatal, tourism is the lifeblood of the NTB, since the organisation is solely dependent on tourism levies.
“But we can only collect tourism levies once somebody (local or international) has stayed at a tourism related establishment. Tourism levies are our artery because they bring in about 90 percent of the income that later translates into our cash injection from the state,” //Naobeb reiterated.
He maintained that with the industry being severely curtailed and impacted by the pandemic, the parastatal’s money making ability as an institution is automatically hampered.
“As such, we are definitely sympathetic and mindful of what the industry is going through globally because we are in the same boat,” he said.
He added that with the slump in tourism levies, it is expected that the NTB’s staff will become edgy. This anxiety, he said, will arise from their uncertainty on whether or not their jobs are guaranteed, especially in light of the fact that some companies within the sector has already slashed down on their staff complements or their remuneration packages.
“We know that we are not going to be spared, as such we are currently trying to manage that situation as prudent as possible and to ensure that we preserve as many jobs as we can,” //Naobeb said.
He further maintained that the NTB board and executive have been looking into coming up with an analytical model dimension to present to the government as the principal stakeholder in its quest to secure more funds.
“To this end, we have placed that at the centre stage of our budget negotiations. Ours is to urge government to find ways through which it can provide funding to the NTB, to ensure that the parastatal continues to operate because our existence is still important during this time of the Covid-19 pandemic.”
//Naobeb added that despite the current lockdowns in certain countries, the NTB cannot cease to promote Namibia as a destination. This because constant reminders and staying in the minds of the travellers is key.
“Once everything is restored and tourists can travel again, they will definitely make their decisions based on the information that they received during the lockdowns and which has filtered through. As such, the ongoing promotion of the destination is imperative and funds should be made available.
“As it stands, no one has a compass or radar pointing to how long this pandemic will prevail, but we remain hopeful that there is a silver lining in the midst of all the confusion,” //Naobeb stressed.
That silver lining, he said, is the hope that people will still want to travel and for them to do so they need to be incentivised and encouraged by being provided with information that they need in order to make responsible decisions.