THE TOURISM-CONSERVATION GAP
Tourism has been amongst the most important industries in Namibia. Since 2014 foreign arrivals started growing significantly, which continued until 2019 with a contribution of approximately 14.7% to GDP. Because of its relatively long value chain, tourism has a substantial contribution to the country’s employment, both directly and indirectly, making up 15.4% of the total in 2019. Namibia’s landscapes, wildlife and authentic cultures, combined with good infrastructure and low levels of crime, will grow Namibia’s popularity as a tourism destination. Although tourism has much potential to make positive impacts, it can put pressure on natural resources including endangered species, lead to soil erosion and habitat loss. Another common issue of tourism is the unequal distribution of benefits.
Namibia has been acknowledged worldwide for its conservation success story through its CBNRM (community based natural resource management) approach. Since independence, communities have been empowered to manage and utilise natural resources in so-called conservancies. With the focus on poverty alleviation and rural economic development, community conservation resulted in the largest population of black rhino in the wild and healthy populations of lions, elephants and other species. Today there are 86 conservancies in Namibia, covering 20% of the country’s surface.
Our vision for tourism and nature to flourish in harmony. Tourism numbers go up as natural ecosystems grow more diverse and spectacular, while benefiting local communities for the natural resources that they conserve, in a self-sustainable and infinite way.
Looking into the future, we believe that with its wide-open landscapes, free-roaming wildlife and authentic traditional cultures, Namibia will continue to be an inspiration for travellers from all around the world. The contemporary, conscious traveller will be eager to learn more about Namibia’s conservation successes. This encourages the tourism sector to continue reimagining its relationship with nature, and it inspires us at TOSCO to continue finding new ways to bridge tourism and conservation. To achieve its vision, TOSCO’s work is centered around consolidating its two pillars of tourism and conservation within three relevant and pertinent themes:
Through its work, TOSCO aims to grow tourism-related support for community-centered conservation. This growth will be achieved by strengthening and deepening the relationship of tourism and conservation, by ensuring that tourism contributes to poverty alleviation and rural economic development, whilst answering the traveller’s need for transparency in terms of their impact, as well as more authentic and engaging experiences.
Our mission is to provide a benchmark for sustainable tourism in Namibia by ensuring that tourism conserves the natural reources it depends on. By linking travel to actual, positive conservation outcomes for the benefit of nature and communities, we assist tourism businesses in being the responsible agent that travellers are looking for.