Namibia Shows Its Colours On The Mice Market Sustainably

10 Mar 2023

The land of endless horizons not only has a lot to offer holidaymakers. Namibia is also an attractive destination for corporate and association travel, conferences and events.

This was the experience of 15 representatives of leading companies from the "Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Events" (MICE) sector who took part in the MICE Trophy 2023 in mid-February. Stops of the adventure tour in off-road vehicles were Sossusvlei, Moon Landscape, Swakopmund and the Khomas Hochland.

The event company MICE Now took over the organisation, Eurowings Discover the flights, Land Rover provided the off-road vehicles and the Namibian organiser Abenteuer Afrika Safaris with its MICE department conducted the tour. The MICE magazine Convention International was also on board, providing additional exposure and reach all the way to the IMEX trade fair at the end of May.

"We received extremely positive feedback," Matthias Lemcke, Acting Area Manager Europe of the Namibia Tourism Board (NTB) in Frankfurt, was pleased to say. "Some participants signalled concrete interest for the coming years." MICE Now provides impressions of the tour in a picture gallery on its website.

According to Lemcke, Namibia has been present on the MICE market for 20 years. "With the MICE Trophy 2023, we have once again shown our colours. Tours like this are irreplaceable. Arousing emotions for conversion into bookings is simply not achievable online."

Tourism under the banner of sustainability

Made a lasting impression on the MICE experts of the MICE Trophy Namibia: The Desert Grace in the Namib Desert.  Photo: Gondwana Collection Namibia

Besides experiences, the tour also offered a lot of information about Namibia as a MICE destination. On the last day, Namibian partners were given the opportunity to present themselves at a workshop.

Among them was Gondwana Collection Namibia, which focused on sustainability in tourism. The MICE experts had already experienced a prime example of this at the beginning of their tour: The Desert Grace in the Namib Desert north of Sossusvlei. Maximum comfort with the highest possible sustainability with a water recycling system, solar power, walkways made of recycled glass, walls made of bags filled with Namib sand on site.

Brand Manager Mannfred Goldbeck now provided the background to the on-site experience in his presentation at the workshop by introducing Gondwana's philosophy of sustainability. Like the three-legged cast iron pot typical of Namibia, it stands on three pillars: nature, people and finance. If one of the legs is too short, the pot tilts.

Healthy growth of all three pillars

The financial pillar is extremely stable. Founded in 1995, five years after independence, Gondwana now consists of more than 30 lodges, hotels and camps throughout the country. Many of them were initially self-built, but have since been given a modern and distinctive character by architects and designers. Gondwana's solid financial planning paid off even during the COVID crisis: Banks had confidence and stood by the company.

Which helped in keeping the promise not to lay off any of the meanwhile 1,200 employees. Mannfred Goldbeck thus moved on to Gondwana's social pillar. Keywords: training academy, employee participation in the company, cooperation with communities in the surrounding area, which have a 10 to 15 percent share in the turnover, and general social commitment.

The "Nature & Environment" pillar is equally broad. Nature conservation, already began with the founding of Gondwana at the Fish River Canyon. There are now four nature reserves: The Gondwana Kalahari Park, the Gondwana Canyon Park at the Fish River Canyon, the Gondwana Sperrgebiet Rand Park near the Wild Horses of the Namib and the Gondwana Namib Park north of Sossusvlei.

Tourists get unique opportunities to experience nature through the parks, as the MICE experts had experienced in the Gondwana Namib Park. With their stay, guests in turn contribute to nature conservation.

The hospitality business in the sensitive ecosystem is run according to the basic principle of "reduce, reuse, recycle". Even during construction of the lodges, sustainability is the top priority.

"Sustainability is anchored in our DNA," emphasises Brand Manager Goldbeck. "The topic is also becoming increasingly important for travellers. This trend has been going on for years and has intensified with the COVID crisis." As evidence, Goldbeck showed a video at the end of his presentation. Produced by Gondwana to comfort nature and Namibia fans during the time of travel restrictions. It has 83,000 hits on Gondwana's Facebook page alone: "I want to break free".

Namibia shows its colours on the international MICE market: Group photo of the MICE Trophy Namibia at Spreetshoogte Pass before descending into the plains of the Namib Desert. Photo: Matthias Lemcke, Namibia Tourism Board

Sven-Eric Stender

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