Namibia: Community-Based/Pro-Poor Tourism Policy
(via EU Eco-Tourism Development Programme/Emerging Markets Group – 2004/2005)
Although Namibia had been independent for more than a decade, the ownership of tourism businesses and tourism skills were still concentrated in a limited number of hands. They had the skills and the capital. But the challenge was now to develop the ability and spread the wealth, by equipping previously disadvantaged* Namibians with the skills and experience to take greater control of their own destiny.
However, in accelerating the pace of transformation to alleviate poverty, it was essential not to erode Namibia’s international competitiveness. This was based on the skills, knowledge and capital of existing tourism operators. If transformation occurred without retaining an appropriate level of marketing knowledge, product quality and service standards, then Namibia would become uncompetitive on the world stage.
This required structures and incentives to be developed that would increase employment and develop skills amongst previously disadvantaged Namibians, as well as give them access to capital and markets.
As much of Namibia’s tourism was wildlife-based, this strategy also had to include a strong eco/conservation element, as well as delivering benefits at a community level.
- Strategic principles were developed within a new national tourism policy which aimed to:
- Increase employment opportunities and skills development for previously disadvantaged Namibians
- Provide access to capital for previously disadvantaged Namibians
- Maintain Namibia’s international competitiveness throughout this transformation process
- Ensure previously disadvantaged Namibians might benefit economically from inbound tourism in their country
- Encourage understanding of the need for wildlife conservation as a sustainable long-term economic opportunity
- Balance traditional hunting rights with the need for animal conservation and visitor safety
- Minimise points of human-wildlife conflict (e.g. crop destruction by elephants and predator attacks on cattle at the edge of national parks)
- Ensure equitable returns to communities from the profitable operation of business concessions on community land
- Broad-based black economic empowerment (BBEE) principles were developed with the tourism industry and incorporated into the policy
- A strategy that:
- Set the conditions for previously disadvantaged Namibians to participate more fully in the development of Namibian tourism
- Balanced traditional communities’ needs with wildlife conservation
- Linked traditional communities to the international tourism supply chain
- Recommended ways of attracting external investment, while empowering communities to control their own destiny
- Provided guidelines for ensuring Namibia's continuing international competitiveness throughout the transformation process
[* The term “previously disadvantaged” refers to those Namibians who, largely by virtue of their ethnicity, had suffered or been excluded from the economic mainstream under the former apartheid regime.]