25 Jan 2011 - Story by Irene !HoaÃ«s
WINDHOEK â€" Cultural tourism is not so popular with tourists compared to wildlife and scenic tourism in Namibia, the Chief Executive Officer of the Namibia Tourism Board (NTB), Digu //Naobeb, has said.
//Naobeb said perhaps the cultural aspects of tourism have been neglected, although the Spanish government is now busy supporting the creation of cultural villages and cultural information centres in the country.
"These sites are generally not popular with tourists. It seems as if what happened in the war times is not so much of interest to tourists," he noted.
//Naobeb was responding to a New Era report stating that some historical or cultural sites are not visited by tourists compared to wildlife resorts in the country.
The historical site cited in the paper is the multi-million-dollar Eenhana Shrine in northern Namibia.
Reasons given for possible low visits to the sites are either tourists abandoning the site or not being aware of its existence.
In addition //Naobeb cited the fact that the regions north of the Etosha National Park, except for the Caprivi Region, have not been well-developed in terms of packaged tourism products.
"However, there are plans under the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA-Namibia) to develop tourism routes and notes, so that that route can be featured by tour operators" //Naobeb added.
The routes, //Naobeb said, are currently only serviced by self-drive tourists.
He expressed concern about reports that his office gets about criminal activities aimed at tourists in the area, especially in the Mataala area where tourists were robbed in the past.
"Regional councils and municipalities must start developing information on tourism in their areas and give the information to the NTB for it to market. We do not have the human resources to do all that," //Naobeb was of the opinion.
He revealed that the Eenhana Town Council had published a tourism information brochure, which also included information of the shrine, with the NTB's help.
Meanwhile, the Head of the National Museum and the Vice-Chairperson of the National Heritage Council of Namibia (NHCN), Esther Moombolah-/GÃ´agoses, said people normally shy away from gravesites and it could be the same with the Eenhana shrine.
"However, if there is an open museum or a curio shop, it may attract people. We will soon start with the second phase where we could add a curio shop or perhaps a museum to attract tourists," she noted.
Moombolah-/GÃ´agoses, however, noted that the Heroes Acre is doing well as schools and guided tours visit the site.
"It is perhaps because there is a restaurant," she added.
There are a number of Commonwealth War Grave Sites in the country but they do not fall under the NHCN and are in private hands.
It is not clear how the sites compare in terms of being tourist attractions.