MCA-N added value to tourism industry: Herunga

15 Jul 2014 16:00pm
WINDHOEK, 15 JUL (NAMPA) - The achievements of the Millennium Challenge Account-Namibia (MCA-N) and its implementing partners have added value to and helped to refresh the country’s tourism industry.
Environment and Tourism Minister Uahekua Herunga commended the MCA-N for a job well done during a tourism ‘closing-off’ workshop here last Wednesday.
“Together, we have proven that we can do great, inspiring tourism development and marketing work, and do well for the environment at the same time.
Five years from now, we should look back and see that the positive foundations laid by the MCA-N tourism project was just the beginning of sustainable growth and positive results for conservation, communities, the tourism industry and indeed for all Namibians,” he beamed.
The Governments of Namibia and the United States of America (USA) signed an agreement known as the ‘Compact’, which is aimed at reducing poverty through economic growth.
The agreement has targeted the acceleration of development in three main sectors - tourism, agriculture and education - which it intends to use as catalysts for socio-economic development.
The Compact commenced in 2009, and will come to an end in September 2014, while the implementing partners – the Ministries of Environment and Tourism; Agriculture, Water and Forestry; Lands and Resettlement; the Namibia Tourism Board (NTB) and the Namibia Training Authority (NTA) - will continue with the projects.
The MCA-N, with funding from the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), has invested US.dollars 67 million (about N.dollars 670 million) in tourism projects here.
This includes about N.dollars 410 million invested in the improvement, management and infrastructure of the Etosha National Park; about N.dollars 80 million to enhance the marketing of tourism; and about N.dollars 180 million to develop the capacity of communal conservancies.
Achievements of the tourism Compact also include 20 destination online marketing tools having been developed through the online marketing activity, and being used by visitors on the NTB website.
The website has won two international awards for Best Website in 2011 at the Travel Trade Show Indaba in South Africa, and the best digital marketing platform in 2012 in New York in the United States of America (USA) at the Adrian awards’ ceremony.
A total of 822 local tourism industry members were trained in online marketing, and how to attract North American travellers; and three routes were also developed, namely the Four Rivers, Omulunga Palm and Arid Eden routes, bringing communal conservancies into the mainstream of the tourism business.
Furthermore, roads’ maintenance and game-capture equipment to the value of N.dollars 32 million was purchased and handed over to the Etosha National Park; and staff villages and management infrastructure are being constructed at the Ombika and Galton Gates, while junior staff houses are being renovated at Okaukuejo. The total amount of infrastructure in the park is valued at N.dollars 307.4 million.
With regards to conservancy support, private sector investment in conservancies has amounted to N.dollars 62 million, with 14 joint venture partnerships; a total of 12 new small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in conservancies have been developed; a total of 137 jobs have been created in conservancies, with a 44 per cent increase in revenues earned by the conservancies shared with members; and seven human-wildlife conflict grants have been implemented.
Meanwhile, speaking at the same occasion, the Charge d’Affaires at the US Embassy Mary Grace McGeehan noted that the tourism Compact will be “a gift that keeps on giving”.
“Thanks to the marketing programme, more travellers will come to Namibia. Thanks to the infrastructure development, they will go home and tell their friends that Namibia is a world-class destination.
And thanks to support through the Compact for conservancies and the skills’ development programme, the people of Namibia will continue to benefit from the riches of their country’s environment,” she added.