Namibian tourism minister said the country expects to diversify its tourism market mainly reliant on Europe by extending its footprint to emerging markets such as China.
In an interview with Xinhua on Saturday, Minister of Environment and Tourism Pohamba Shifeta said in 2013, 1.3 million tourists mainly from Germany, United Kingdom, Italy, France and South Africa came to Namibia.
Among initiatives formulated by Namibia, according to him, is "to diversify markets by expanding footprint in emerging markets such as North America, China and United Arab Emirates, whilst being cognizant that investment is needed to build awareness in these markets before realizing increased travel from these markets. "
Among the marketing strategies being employed by Namibia to tap into the emerging but lucrative Chinese market Shifeta indicated is "to harness use of on-line marketing through various social media platforms to reach those travellers."
Other initiatives are to realign marketing efforts in existing source markets, especially Europe "by focusing on market segments that are still untapped such as incentive travel, hunting etc. to cultivate more interest to travel to Namibia."
"Namibia has been accorded the Approved Destination Status (ADS) that allows it to market in China. What is critical for us to ensure that we have tour operators that are specializing in this market. To date we have about five (Chinese) operators based in Namibia," said the minister.
ADS is a bilateral tourism arrangement between the Chinese government and a destination outside China whereby Chinese tourists visit that particular destination.
Shifeta was also however aware of the fact unlike other tourists who spend their entire stay in Namibia resting, "Chinese travellers also include leisure with business travel and this requires a different approach from outside as opposed to marketing experience and expertise we have in the current traditional markets."
"Thus the whole ethos of doing business culture needs to change on our side," he said.
Tourism in Namibia is a major sector industry contributing 7.2 billion Namibian dollars (590 million U.S. dollars) to the country' s gross domestic product with tens of thousands of jobs.
One of the recent tourist exist surveys indicated tourists spend 28 percent of their expenditure on transport, 15 percent on food and drink, 11 percent on shopping and 38 percent on accommodation.