ATTA Vice-President Chris Doyle made the statement during a meeting with tourism stakeholders on strategies for maximising the benefits of hosting the Adventure Travel World Summit (ATWS) slated to take place here from 26 to 31 October this year.
“Despite the contention, ATTA is going to engage with representatives of the tourism industry and not debate the issue. Every tourism destination in the world has issues and faces challenges in the sector, but we choose Namibia as the destination to host the summit,” he explained.
During the summit, delegates from around the world will gather for six days in Windhoek and Swakopmund for field days, adventure, marketing, networking and learning.
In September last year, pro-seal life activists called for an international boycott of Namibia’s tourism and export products to bring about an end to the country’s annual seal culling. They have also petitioned against Namibia’s bid to host the 2013 ATWS.
The petition by ‘Just for Seals Namibia’ to the ATTA received thousands of signatures.
“We seek ATTA’s cooperation not as a punitive measure but as a message to the Namibian Government that the inhumane harvest cannot be tolerated by the global community, encouraging them to develop economic alternatives,” read the petition.
Current seal populations stand at around 700 000 individuals, and current three-year rolling Total Allowable Catch (TAC) stands at 6 000 males and 80 000 pups per season. The TAC is revised annually.
A report issued by the Ombudsman in Namibia, John Walters during September last year said the seal population in Namibia is in a healthy growing state and is in no way threatened with extinction.
Harvesting usually only starts mid-July and ends in November.
Meanwhile, soon after Walters’ report last year, local media reported that tourists by the busload visited the Cape Cross Seal Reserve to see Cape Fur seals, regardless of the fact that a few hours before they entered the reserve, scores of seal pups were killed as part of the annual seal cull.
It stated that according to reserve officers, nearby lodge staff, and land and marine tour operators, seal tourism is as good as ever, if not better.
During the harvest season about 69 workers are employed and their combined monthly salary is about N.dollars 130 000.