Hospitality industry benefits from OATF
With international travel mostly suspended, many airlines didn’t survive - including national carrier Air Namibia. A slump in demand for domestic and international travel along with travel restrictions hit the industry hard.
At some point, the restaurants and bars had no customers as people complied with President Hage Geingob’s lockdown restrictions to contain the virus.
The popular Ongwediva Annual Trade Fair (OATF) also took a break and could not be hosted during 2020 and 2021 because of the restrictions enforced to curb Covid-19. The fair returned in 2022, offering hope to business owners in and around Ongwediva’s Oshana Region.
Trade shows bring many benefits
Stella Ileka, the manager of Cubita Guesthouse in Oshakati, said the OATF gives businesses the opportunity to make sales and forge valuable relationships. “Nowhere else will you find the town full of people in buying mode, looking to source products and services like yours,” she said.
She added that the guesthouse also benefits from the trade fair as it enables them to network with others in the industry.
“Maybe you’ll source new partners or suppliers. Another major benefit is being able to witness all the latest developments within the industry because all the main players will be there, demonstrating or launching new products and services so you can see what they are up to, what works and what doesn’t,” Ileka said, adding that this presents an opportunity for business owners to learn of industry trends and new developments.
For individuals, she said trade shows offer the opportunity to source new products and services, see the latest trends and maybe take advantage of a promotional offer.
Recovering from the pandemic
The Cubita Guesthouse caters for various needs. This, Ileka said, kept them going during the pandemic when customers were not moving around as often. They have two swimming pools - one for adults and another for children. They charge N$30 per person for people aged five years and older to make use of their facilities.
Ileka added that they offer delicious cocktails, have a kiddies kiosk and host birthday parties.
“Our menu has a variety of options - from pizza to seafood. We also have braai facilities which cater for family events and a conference facility which caters for 15 to 20 people,” she said.
Ndina Shaxula, a waitress at Meita Green House at Omatando Number 1, said they too felt the absence of customers during the Covid-19 lockdown, but noticed an improvement slowly when the world began to open up again.
She said they offer wedding decor, baby and bridal showers as well as birthday parties, and have a restaurant. Those who would like to relax at a pool are also welcome.
She said trade fairs are a very powerful marketing medium as they bring together thousands of international buyers and sellers in one place in a short space of time.
Shaxula said the guesthouse benefits from the OATF as visitors to the fair later visit their establishment to unwind.
“Whether you are an individual looking for inspiration or a business associated to the travel and tourism industry, there are many reasons to attend industry specific trade shows. There are many ways and sources to look for products and suppliers, but nothing can beat the benefits that the trade fairs have to offer,” she said.
Meanwhile, Uukwambi chief Herman Iipumbu said expos and trade fairs aim to provide a platform for all Namibians to learn from and strengthen their cultures in diversity. They also provide a platform for all enterprises, institutions and business sectors to sell and showcase their products and services.
He added that attending trade shows will give businesses and individuals information about the direction the tourism and travel industry is taking.