‘Small Things Matter’ was the theme of the 20th Namibian Tourism Expo. This theme focused on how well the tourism industry was performing, and making people mindful of the fact we still need to nurture the industry. In rural areas, conservancies have a great deal to offer tourists, by providing space, the protection of wildlife and authentic cultural experiences. Small things matter, such as the benefits of tourism being shared with the community through jobs and training and allowing them a stake in the future.
Community conservation was represented at the Expo, and in line with Small Things Matter, we developed our theme of HOMEGROWN, Namibia's conservancies: our people, products and stories. This was a message that visitors wanted to hear. Four conservancy representatives: Hileni Kanyemba – chairperson of the management committee of Tulongeni craft shop and Leena Namgombe – craft producer from King Nehale Conservancy, David Eiseb – Manger of Sorris Sorris Conservancy and Lameck Limbo – Enterprise Officer of Wuparo Conservancy, enthusiastically and vibrantly engaged with visitors, informing them about wildlife and conservation in their conservancies. The craft producers made baskets and beaded jewellery at the stand, people were impressed by their skilful hands and bought some of their products. The income generated from the crafts goes directly back to conservancy members.
Some visitors were interested in the SIDE TRACKS booklets, which are self-drive routes designed for adventurous people who share a love for this country and want to explore more than what meets the eye in conservancy areas. The routes combine tourism, community development and conservation, while continuing to protect natural resources.
There was a spirit of ubuntu and working together with different stakeholders to get the message across that tourism begins at home. TOSCO, Eloolo and Asmara tours contributed to the theme by representing responsible travel, carbon offsetting through tree planting, and an authentic township experience. Congratulations to Maria Andimba who won the beautiful raffle basket with goodies provided by NACSO partners: Omba arts Trust, Namibia Nature Foundation, Save the Rhino Trust, Nyae Nyae Development Foundation, TOSCO and the Cheetah Conservation Fund.
The communal conservancy stand was awarded one of nine gold certificates that were conferred at Expo, and the editors choice award. Small things build up to big things, which make a difference.