The $304.5 million MCC Compact in Namibia is focused on improving the quality of education and training for underserved populations and use Namibia’s comparative advantages to increase the incomes of Namibians in the northern areas of the country. As Resident Country Director for MCC in Namibia, I provide support and oversight for all aspects of compact implementation. I am also the MCC sector lead on the Tourism Project, one of the key components of our efforts to capitalize on Namibia’s assets — like its diverse wildlife and landscapes — to raise incomes and create employment.
In this regard, I am pleased to report that May 6, 2011 was a big day for the Namibia Tourism Board—they won two prestigious awards. The first, an award for Best Tourism Board, was received at INDABA, Africa’s largest tourism fair. The Namibia Tourism Board (NTB) competed against over 315 nominees in 18 different categories; over 300 safari tour operators and product owners, along with about 50 media and press personalities, attended this event. Also on May 6, the NTB won the award for Best Website at the Travel Mole African Web Awards, sponsored by Tourism KwaZulu Natal.http://www.namibiatourism.com.na/
Formally established by an Act of Parliament in 2000, the NTB was formed to regulate the tourism industry and market Namibia as a tourist destination. The NTB is an implementing partner to MCC under the Namibia Compact, and MCC funds are being used to support the development of the award-winning and new NTB website in an effort to promote Namibia as a global destination. The NTB’s new slogan, “Namibia – Endless Horizons,” is setting the stage for this strategic push. The new website also gives consumers the opportunity to thoroughly explore what Namibia has to offer, including the Etosha National park, the Skeleton Coast, and the Fish River Canyon. MCC funds will also help NTB promote Namibian tourism by conducting destination marketing campaigns in strategic target markets and develop and advertise new tourism routes featuring community-based tourism products.
In addition to this marketing support, the MCC-funded Tourism Project aims to improve the management and infrastructure of Etosha National Park and develop the capacity of communal con¬servancies to attract investments in ecotourism and capture a greater share of the revenue generated by tourism. Through these efforts MCC also hopes to promote increased private sector investment in tourism enterprises in and around national parks and conservancies, increase tourist visitation to these sites, and also increase national tourism revenue to the Government of Namibia. Together, these activities will increase incomes and create employment opportunities for some of the poorest populations in Namibia, while conserving the natural resources that serve as the basis for the tourism industry. I’m proud to be a part of this effort, and I look forward to working with the government and the people of Namibia to make it happen.