The new Galton Gate route through Western Etosha is now officially open to all tourists. The western parts of the national park were previously only accessible to a limited number of licensed tour operators.
The opening of the gate comes as a result of efforts made by the Millennium Challenge Account Namibia (MCA-N) and the Namibian Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) to reclassify the Western Etosha road between Galton Gate and M’Bari (the Galton Gate Route) from a ‘Restricted Use’ tourism zone to an ‘Open Access’ tourism one.
The envisaged positive outcome of this initiative is the creation of a number of new tourist routes, circuits, linkages and lodge opportunities both inside and outside Etosha.
In other news, MCA-N has handed over 10 completed tourism projects to the combined value of N$17m (R17m) to communal conservancies in the Zambezi Region.
The projects consist of three lodges that are joint ventures between conservancy members and private investors, a cultural centre, the upgrade of several craft centres, a community bakery, boats and equipment for a fishery project, and various activities to mitigate human-wildlife conflict, such as the erection of fences to protect residents from crocodiles.
Moreover, MCA-N translocated over 1 000 wild animals from larger game parks to the communal conservancies, including giraffes and eland, to make them more attractive to visitors looking for tourist attractions off the beaten track.
MCA-N CEO, Penny Akwenye, stressed the impact of the support programme on the Namibian economy: “Investment by the private sector in eco-tourism has increased from N$3 million to N$100 million since 2010, and where we expected to create over 100 jobs, we have now reached the number of 400 employees.”