14 September 2021 | Tourism
TN-Person of the month
Making dreams come true
Having been officially inaugurated on 19 July 2000, Twyfelfontein Country Lodge has just turned 21. Situated within a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the lodge serves as base for visitors to explore the wonders of Damaraland, famous for its desert adapted elephants, century-old Welwitchias, the Organ Pipes, the Burnt mountain, and historic rock engravings dating back more than 3 000 years.
What does tourism mean to you?
It’s an honour and privilege to walk in the footsteps of pioneers in conservation tourism. Likewise, it’s an honour to showcase the natural beauty and diversity of our beloved country, Namibia as well as the age-old heritage of the Damara people of the Twyfelfontein area. Nothing beats the beauty of spontaneous song of our staff. Tourism is a source of opportunity and hope and dreams – a truly rewarding journey.
How do you view tourism in this difficult time?
We’re undoubtedly in rough waters. Nevertheless, the industry has become more united and focused through collaborative efforts to share resources, skills and platforms to continue to market Namibia as a safe and sought after destination. Yes, travelling has changed, but Namibia as a destination remained the same. Thankfully, every challenge also brings new opportunities. As an industry, we have to rethink our value offering, re-evaluate the tourism value chain, and find innovative ways of selling “experiences” rather than just a holiday trip.
What do you expect for tourism in Namibia 2021/22?
The industry will walk on a thin line with regards to its pricing strategies. Maintaining low but sustainable margins is of utmost importance for survival right now. However, surplus revenue is equally important (and needed) to recover from losses incurred since the start of the pandemic. That being said, the importance of a solid local customer support base cannot be underestimated. I believe local travellers will continue to receive exceptionally good value for money deals in the years to come. Tourism is resilient and as soon as we manage to change the “fear effect” to “responsibility and safety”, we will see our international visitor numbers pick up again. I believe the industry will also see an accelerated move towards individualised or personalised travel requirements.
How can locals support tourism in their own country?
Be good ambassadors. I also firmly believe that “Tourism is Everybody’s Business”. Let us all keep Namibia clean and safe, protect our good international reputation and be welcoming and respectful to each visitor and fellow citizen. Then, travel your own country – not with a mindset to consume, but to conserve.
The person Riaan Brand:
I was born in the small town of Aranos and grew up as a farm boy. I graduated in two engineering disciplines and currently serve as managing director of the Namibia Country Lodges Group. Coming from an engineering background, continuous improvement has always been a subject of interest to me, whether it be engineering projects, business processes or sustainability. Tourism is a very dynamic industry with ever-changing needs and expectations, i.e. room for improvement on a daily basis… Since I joined Namibia Country Lodges in 2013, I have never had a dull moment. It’s almost a constant source of energy – a dream come true. That’s why we strive to fulfil the dreams of both our guests and staff.