New self-drive routes launched

04 Jun 2014 17:00pm
WINDHOEK, 04 JUN (NAMPA) - Three new self-drive routes that will give travellers the opportunity to discover Namibia’s best-kept secrets in the north, were launched on Tuesday night.
The routes include Arid Eden, which stretches from Swakopmund to the Angolan border; Four Rivers (including the Zambezi, Kavango, Kwando and Chobe rivers); and Omulunga Palm (from Ruacana to Nkurenkuru).
Speaking at the launch, Deputy Minister of Environment and Tourism Pohamba Shifeta highlighted the importance of a self-drive market in Namibia, noting that such a market comprises adventure seekers wanting to explore destinations at their own pace.
“The route concept is a unique marketing tool especially for off-road or rural tourism activities, hence it is a sustainable tourism practice. The idea of establishing functional and sustainable tourism routes in Namibia will equally create economic opportunities for rural tourism and conservancies that are in most cases disadvantaged to market share,” he noted.
Shifeta in particular encouraged the Car Rental Association of Namibia, the Tour Operators Association of Namibia and the Hospitality Association of Namibia, to render their support and enter into partnership agreements to draw more tourists to these routes.
Speaking at the same occasion, Chief Executive Officer of the Millennium Challenge Account Namibia (MCA-N), Penny Akwenye said these routes will create a framework where emerging and established tourism operators will collaborate and share knowledge for the benefit of stakeholders.
“Sharing information and knowledge will emerging tourism operators and communal conservancies an opportunity to tap into established tourism markets. This is why the Namibia Tourism Board (NTB) requested for the development of tourism routes under the MCA-N Compact,” she stressed.
Akwenye called on the Ministry of Environment and Tourism and NTB to continue to provide an enabling environment for the routes to function by establishing a route development and support programme.
At the same occasion, Managing Director of Open Africa Francois Viljoen said these routes are a product with local ownership.
“The idea is to capitalise on the major attractions in the northern parts of the country and to lure tourists that visit Victoria Falls at the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe to Namibia,” he noted.
To develop the routes, MCA-N through the NTB procured the services of a non-profit organisation, Open Africa and Grant Thornton Consulting to conduct a situational analysis of the area’s tourism potential and develop three new tourism routes within Namibia.
The routes were developed to sustain and uplift communities through tourism attractions, activities and accommodation in rural areas.