Tourism ministry concerned over tourist attacks

Windhoek-The Ministry of Environment and Tourism is concerned over the growing frequency of attacks on tourists visiting Namibia. The ministry's spokesperson Romeo Muyunda said they have noted at least two attacks on tourists in a space of two weeks, with the most recent attack reported on the Western Bypass in Windhoek last week.

A family of four German tourists survived an attempted hijacking and robbery on the Western Bypass around 13:30 last Thursday.

Namibia has always been regarded as a safe travel destination with peaceful people, a reputation that has contributed to the growth of tourism in the country, Muyunda said.

With the current trend where tourists are being attacked, we are called upon to take collective measures, as individuals and institutions to restore our status of a peaceful environment, he said.

It has been reported that the tourists had just landed in Namibia and en route to Etosha National Park in their rented double-cab bakkie.

The Namibian Sun reported that on the Western Bypass, just across from Paaltjies, a silver Polo which was following them, indicated there was something wrong with the vehicle. The unsuspecting tourists stopped and were attacked by three assailants.

It has further been reported that the criminals assaulted the father and demanded money from him.

The driver of a bus travelling behind the Polo noticed the commotion and stopped to help the tourists. The driver of the bus was armed and fired two warning shots in the air.

Two of the three robbers fled in the vehicle leaving one behind and was held at gunpoint by the bus driver until the police arrived.

Tourists passing through and visiting Namibia are easily recognisable because they would be taking pictures of monuments and they would be carrying backpacks.

The ministry condemned these destructive actions by some members of society.

Muyunda further discouraged those elements that tarnish the image of the country and or seek to jeopardise efforts to grow tourism potential to its maximum.

These actions, he said have far-reaching consequences to the tourism sector and Namibia as a destination.

Violence is not an experience we want to create for our tourists but on the contrary, we want them experience the peacefulness that we have always offered over the years, he noted.

The ministry called upon the law enforcement agencies and the Namibian citizens, to be vigilant and act proactively against these acts.

The ministry commended those that apprehend one of the suspects and called upon the Namibian Police Force to ensure that those that escaped are arrested without delay.

We also call upon the judiciary to show no mercy on these suspects, as a way of discouraging this disturbing trend in our country. Tourism is a people-driven and people-centred industry and one thing is for sure that we cannot achieve our desired results if we pull in different directions. The significance of tourism to our country cannot be overemphasized. The sector is an important contributor to the generation of foreign exchange earnings, investments, revenue, employment creation, rural development, poverty reduction and ultimately to the growth of the country's economy , he stated.

Source: New Era Newspaper Namibia