23 Feb 2015 16:20pm
WINDHOEK, 23 FEB (NAMPA) The fifth international symposium and annual conference of partners of the global partnership for sustainable tourism kicked off here on Sunday with a pledge to combat poaching.
During a cocktail reception at a local hotel, the Minister of Environment and Tourism Uahekua Herunga raised the concern that rhino poaching is a major threat for Namibia as it hampers the growth of tourism.
It is important that all stakeholders both within and outside Africa join forces and combat this evil that is facing us. Indeed the prospect of Africa without the big five is a terrible thought that should never be entertained, he noted.
The big five animals are the rhino, elephant, lion, leopard and buffalo.
Herunga said that the poaching of rhinos in conservancies, private and national parks is taking away direct economic benefits from communal conservancies and the national Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
In response to this threat, the Government of Namibia has pledged to combat poaching to ensure a safe haven for rhinos.
He suggested that the tourism sector needs to streamline Governments efforts at preserving and conserving biodiversity in the face of adversity from the impact of climate change and other environmental challenges.
The potential that tourism offers for the wellbeing of all Namibians through contributing to income, livelihoods, empowerment and employment, not just in towns and cities but also in rural areas, must be exploited to the full. Available data suggested that for every 13 tourists arriving in Namibia, one job is created.
Let this conference serve as a sign of the Namibian Governments dedication to tourism development and goals in line with our long-term visions and priorities of sustainability in the interest of our people, environment and planet, Herunga added.
The theme of the event is Advancing sustainable tourism: securing the legacy of our cultural and natural heritage.
Expert panel discussions on key and emerging issues of sustainable tourism, including conservation issues in Namibia and throughout Africa are lined up for Monday and Tuesday.
MET is hosting the symposium in collaboration with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Government of France, Hospitality Association of Namibia (HAN), Tour and Safari Association of Namibia, and Eco-Awards Namibia.