And now the time has come and the floodgates are about to open. The
whole world will have its eyes glued on Southern Africa for an entire
month, from 11 June to 11 July. Fittingly, the Namibia Tourism Expo in
Windhoek ends a few days before the first kick-off in Soweto. In a way,
we are relieved that the eight years between the announcement that South
Africa had won the bid and the actual event have passed. It seems as if
our dreams and expectations, planning and strategising have evolved
around the 2010 Soccer World Cup for almost a decade. The time has come,
and the evidence of our successful planning is there for the world to
see. And afterwards we will have hard facts to work out whether we made
the correct decisions, implemented the right strategies and used this
once-in-a-lifetime opportunity as best we could.
At least we know that the Namibia Tourism Board led the way in the right
direction by warning very early on that Namibia would not benefit
directly from the big event, but would have to ride the wave of
increased international exposure. That we should focus and gear up for
realistic opportunities and not be blinded by idealistic expectations.
Collectively we have positioned ourselves perfectly. As a neighbouring
country and a destination of choice for several decades for a large
majority of the South African self-driving public, Namibia will reap the
benefit of these visitors over the next two months.
It is not only the direct benefit of thousands of visitors in one month
that matters. It is the fact that eight years of preparation, publicity
and development steadily increased and improved what we have to offer.
The momentum will not be lost after the World Cup. MCA-funded projects
will only start having an effect at a later stage. The success of
tourism in conservancies and rural communities has created many new
challenges, but also provided new opportunities. It just goes to show
that we should never rest on our laurels.
As we prepared to receive the prestigious WTTC award in Beijing (page
5), Jackie Asheeke and her team launched an insightful view on community
tourism enterprises and the business of tourism. The dynamics of the
sector are such that we can never relax and say we’ve accomplished it!
What we do know is that the second decade of the 21st century promises
to take tourism in Namibia to a completely new level. After 20 years of
independence, tourism is the one sector of our economy that has
delivered on promise.
On a more practical note: Ron Swilling, Marita van Rooyen and Kelly
Beukes will be travelling along the back roads of Namibia for the coming
year to open up these routes to Travel News Namibia readers, road by
road, exposing the possibilities for those who have a pioneering spirit
for adventurous travel and who lamented that Namibia was no longer that
kind of destination. Namibia still is and we are determined to uncover