By Hilary Mare
OUTGOING founding member and MD of local hospitality group, Gondwana Collection, Manfred Goldbeck who has served the tourism industry for an excess of 20 years has stated that the industry is becoming less attractive as an investment prospect with this problem compounded by the proposed New Equitable Economic Empowerment Framework (NEEEF).
Making a key paper presentation at the Bank of Namibia 17th Annual Symposium on how the tourism sector can unlock unemployment, Goldbeck bemoaned the negative perception created by the NEEEF and slammed it as an ill-considered political decision that in fact will achieve the opposite of its intention.
“The introduction of NEEEF has additionally created a very negative investment perception for foreign and white Namibian investors. For many this has been an ill-considered political decision that in fact will achieve the opposite of its intention. By introducing additional uncertainty and unpredictability, NEEEF is eroding confidence in (further) tourism investment, which will limit growth in this sector, its ability to enhance the economy, and so will ultimately not help to improve the lives of the average Namibian. The industry is grappling with a lack of capacity in the number of available beds, especially during the high season. Such capacity can only be developed through strategic investment,” he said.
Goldbeck reiterated that in order to enhance Namibia’s current product offering, further investment is needed, but the industry is becoming less attractive as an investment prospect. The tourism industry is by its nature highly capital intensive. With return on investment generally being long-term, too often other sectors appear to offer a better and more immediate return on investment.
“With the right incentives in place to secure further interest and investment, our industry could make significant strides forward,” added Goldbeck. Investor confidence is a critical factor for development. After independence Namibia has managed to maintain a politically stable and investor friendly environment, making it a darling in the eyes of not only local but foreign investors as well. “Accordingly, the tourism industry we have today has in large part been established through private funds and investments. Yet we need to mindful that maintaining this investor and business confidence is an on-going necessity. It can so easily be eroded by socio-economic factors like the huge income gap between a minority of wealthy people and majority of low income groups, lack of transparency, or uncertainty with respect to legislation and land use policies, bad governance or the financial challenges currently faced by Government. “To maintain investor confidence, Government must tackle these challenges with the appropriate action and transparency. From a visitor perspective, confidence in the safety of our country remains paramount. Here Government needs to be far more vocal in the media when unforeseen negative events that arise on the continent, to assure traveller peace of mind,” he added.
A recent report revealed that 1.3 million tourists visited Namibia in 2015, breaking all previous records.
The upward growth over the last 20 years equates to a 5.5 percent increase per year – and is an incredible and enormous success story.
“It is therefore my closing view that when the right processes are applied, and when the conditions for development are supportive, that the Namibian tourism industry has the potential to grow from strength to strength, and with it, to bring much needed new jobs into the economy.
“Yet as we prepare ourselves for the future we need to be ever mindful that this next chapter in our tourism’s evolution is a marathon, and not a sprint. Efficient and effective preparation followed by steady progress is what is needed to finish ahead in this race,” said Goldbeck.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015