ONDANGWA: The Etotha Carnival received a financial boost of over N.dollars 1.5 million during the launch and fundraising event held in Ondangwa on Saturday.
The Ondonga Traditional Authority, as the main sponsor, pledged N.dollar 500,000 for the hosting of the carnival.
Speaking during the launch and fundraising, Minister of Environment and Tourism, Pohamba Shifeta, said the ministry, in collaboration with the Ondonga Traditional Authority (OTA), has agreed to establish an annual festival called the Etotha Carnival in the area of the salt pans under the OTA's jurisdiction. Shifeta stated that this is aimed at improving the livelihood of the local communities, reviving and preserving the heritage of the communities, fostering sustainable tourism development, and enhancing conservation of biological diversity while fostering social cohesion among the communities from all corners of Namibia.
'Etotha Carnival, therefore, seeks to harmonise these two forces, using tourism as a bridge to explore and appreciate the diverse cultures and heritage that make our country so extraordinary,' he said. He indicated that the Ekangonde Salt Pans celebrations, as an important heritage site, bring people together to celebrate the critical role they play in supporting and shaping the traditional lifestyles of our communities.
Through this event, Shifeta said they plan to improve the livelihoods of the communities in the Onanke area and the region at large by promoting domestic tourism and spreading the benefits thereof.
Moreover, Shifeta highlighted that in 2022, they recorded a total of 461,027 tourists having arrived at the end of 2022, growing by a record increase of 98.1% from 232,756 in 2021. 'These numbers indicate a good sign of recovery in the travel and tourism sector and provide hope for all in the sector,' he said.
He further stated that in 2015, using the broader economy concept that includes indirect effects and makes allowances for investment spending in support of tourism activities, the total travel and tourism contribution to the GDP was N.dollars 15.1 billion, representing 10.2% of the overall GDP and 100,700 jobs, which is 14.5% of total employment.
Meanwhile, Leader of the Ondonga Traditional Authority, Fillemon Shuumba Nangolo, stated that the salt pan, which has culturally been off-limits to women, will be allowed to accommodate all genders. Nangolo explained that the salt pan has been used as a place to initiate young boys into men. However, their ancestors have given permission to allow women to also visit the salt pan during the carnival. The Etotha Carnival is scheduled to take place in July next year in the Oshikoto Region.
Source: The Namibia Press Agency