Crimes against tourists, particularly robberies, are on the increase in Namibia, and this could hinder efforts to revive the industry if not addressed.
The Chief Executive Officer of the Namibia Tourism Board, Digu ||Naobeb, expressed this concern at a one-day workshop with stakeholders in the ||Kharas Region.
The aim of the gathering was to build capacity and resilience among vulnerable communities in the tourism industry.
||Naobeb says criminal activities targeting visitors are a cause for concern, and if not addressed soon, tourist arrivals may continue to decline.
"We have witnessed people going into lodges, especially when most of them are camping, and cutting through their tents and robbing them of their valuables, so those are issues that, in the long run, if we are not careful, would properly harm our reputation as a tourism destination."
There are 86 registered conservancies run by residents, and their survival totally depends on tourism, said UNESCO Representative, Helvi Mashell.
"Some tourists are attracted to visit lodges that are practicing sustainable tourism, and we are really just encouraging Namibian lodges to keep up the good work. It might sound impossible to practice sustainable tourism, but it is something that is doable, and all we need to do is educate ourselves, find the right information, and we will be able to live in a very environmentally friendly and also sustainable environment that we can keep for the future generation."
"More efforts and resources must be availed to ensure that our communities realize the potential that is offered by our heritage and culture in our search for better and sustainable economic opportunities," said Joseph Isaacks, Chairperson of the ||Kharas Regional Council.
The workshop on the National Strategy on Sustainable Heritage Tourism Development and Employment Creation was held in response to the impact of COVID-19.
Similar workshops, organized by the Namibia Tourism Board and the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, will be conducted in other regions.