With over 300 exhibitors expected to form part of this year’s Namibia Tourism Expo, slated for 18 to 21 May, the spectacle promises several new and exciting elements, as it marks its 18th anniversary.
Maggy Mbako, the Public Relations Executive of Namibia Media Holdings, which organises the expo, said this year’s event would run under the sub-theme ‘community’ and will be held at the Windhoek Show Grounds.
Mbako said the expo was still operating under its ecotourism theme, in which there were sub-themes, and this year there would be communities of living museums, which are sponsored by Nedbank Namibia.
“We tend to forget that the communities such as the employees from the surrounding areas of any tourist attraction are important to making our tourism industry successful. So this year the expo focus is on celebrating communities.
“We are celebrating those communities that were previously left out and do not get highlighted, while we try to showcase what they have,” Mbako said.
“For the first time ever at the Tourism Expo, we are bringing in living museums from Zambezi, Kavango and some parts of the Otjozondjupa region, the San people. So we will have a village there where people can experience how these people live their lives on a daily basis,” said Mbako.
The expo organiser noted that the annual event was adding value to the tourism industry, as it was the only platform where stakeholders can network locally.
The expo brings together industry players with key stakeholders such as the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, Namibia Wildlife and Resorts, the Namibia Tourism Board, Air Namibia and TransNamib.
Mbako said there were several new elements to this year’s expo, such as the MyInfo app, which she says has been revamped and has already started operating.
This is a mobile phone application that people can download, to keep themselves updated on the news and events happening during the expo.
“If one downloads the app now, they will be able to read the story before the newspaper comes out the next day. The application was launched two years ago, but now it has been revamped to suit our clients’ needs.
“It also has the capability of rating the stands, and the public can be engaged in the selection process of best stands, and other competitions during the expo. Readers can win prizes, according to their participation on the app.
“In future the MyInfo app will be used to rate the service delivery of tour operators, such that when people get service in a hotel, restaurant or any tourist place, they can vote on the service they have received,” Mbako said.
Another first would be the Responsible Tourism Awards (RTA), which were launched last year, where accommodation establishments and tour operators will be awarded at a colourful event scheduled for 19 May.
Also taking place at the expo is the first ever Namibia Town of the Year awards, dubbed ‘NTY’ People’s Choice, where 37 towns around Namibia will battle it out for honours.
“Namibians from all corners of the country will have the opportunity to choose their Town of the Year through an SMS competition. The 37 towns in Namibia will be divided into four areas and people from across the country will choose a town to represent each area in the national finals, to be held during the expo.
“Different competitions were held in different areas, thus the northern, central, western and southern regions each held different competitions, and the winners will be announced and awarded accordingly,” she said.
Mbako further highlighted that the majority of exhibitors this year will be locals, while some were from South Africa, especially the wine estates, while others were from Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana and Indonesia.
She said exhibitors from Indonesia, who have been part of the expo for the last couple of years, would be the only truly global exhibitors.