World Tourism Day (WTD) 2017, commemorated annually on 27 September, and the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development are two observances that raise awareness of how sustainable tourism can contribute to development. These observances are especially relevant in Namibia where tourism is one of the largest contributors to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Sustainable tourism is defined as tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities.
Due to its warmer climate, rich cultural history, abundant biodiversity and impressive landscapes, the tourism industry in Namibia has a comparative advantage to other industries. This has allowed for steady growth in the sector, resulting in increased revenue and job creation and subsequently impacting the livelihoods of many Namibians.
Namibia’s cultural tourism is a fairly fresh concept for visitors that have traditionally flocked to the country hoping to embark on an eco-lodge holiday or a coastal expedition to see the endless dunes. Tour companies offer home stays, camping accommodations and the chance to experience traditional craft-making, story-telling, activities and cuisine of local tribes. The overall experience offers a glimpse into the vibrant and ancient traditions of tribal groups in Namibia.
Cultural tourism provides an excellent opportunity to expand Namibia’s tourism sector in a new and distinctive way; however, this form of tourism is not without its drawbacks. Cultural tourism carries a very hefty responsibility—as it does in any country rich in history and diversity. It requires that governments constantly take stock of the advancements happening in its most well-preserved cultural communities and exercise a reflexive self-awareness as these sensitive communities develop and are subsumed into the hustle and bustle of the tourism sector. Continue reading