/Ai-/Ais Hotsprings and Spa closes due to extensive rain damage

Windhoek, 12 January 2021 – On 5 January 2021, Namibia Wildlife Resorts Limited (NWR) /Ai-/Ais Hotsprings and Spa experienced heavy rains and flash floods. These flash floods resulted in the rivers along the resort to overflow, causing extensive damage to the resort and campsites.

 

Ai-Ais Hotsprings and Spa campsite

 

Mr Robert Hailume, /Ai-/Ais Hotsprings and Spa Acting Resort Manager, narrated his experience “the rain was quite heavy and caused extensive damage to the resort and campsites. Though the resort experienced severe damage, I am grateful that all our clients that were camping that evening were successfully evacuated and are safe”.

 

In light of the damage to the resort and campsites, NWR had no other option but to temporarily close the resort to visitors for the next three months starting from 11 January 2021 until the end of March 2021. “We will soon commence with the repair work. This will ensure that the resort can begin to operate as soon as possible” says Dr Matthias Ngwangwama, NWR Managing Director.

 

About /Ai-/Ais Hotsprings and Spa

 

/Ai-/Ais which literally means “fire” or “burning water” in Namibia’s Khoekhoegowab language, is situated in Southern Namibia’s //Karas Region at the base of the Great Karas Mountains, about 128 kilometres West of Karasburg and 224 kilometres South-West of Keetmanshoop. The /Ai-/Ais Hotsprings and Spa is located in the /Ai-/Ais Richtersveld Transfrontier Park, near Fish River Canyon, the second largest canyon in the world and the main attraction in Southern Namibia. The Fish River Canyon Hiking Trail is ranked as one of the best hiking trails in Southern Africa.

The state of the Namutoni Fort

The Fort Entrance has now been officially closed off to avoid public access up until it is renovated
Windhoek, 14 December 2020 – On 13 December 2020, Namibia Wildlife Resorts Limited (NWR) took note of photos that circulated on social media depicting the condition of the Namutoni fort which was, and is, closed off from general public use. The fort has been closed off for several years with the intent to renovate it to its former state for both the domestic and international market. Returning it to its former state entails the relocation of accommodation facilities back to the fort as was the case in the past. It also involves replacing the wooden deck at the viewpoint.

 

Inside the Fort

 

The envisioned renovation is estimated to cost about N$ 20 million, of which NWR does not have at the moment. However, it has been proactively engaging different stakeholders with no success. It is for this reason that the NWR management team a few years ago opted to close off the fort up until they could secure the necessary funds to realise the project. “Though, as NWR, we do not condone the filth that has accumulated within the fort. The removal of dilapidated structures and cleaning is something that has been addressed immediately and going forth we will do periodic cleanups up until we have renovated the fort” says Dr Matthias Ngwangwama, NWR Managing Director.

 

Entrance to the viewpoint at the Fort that is closed off from the public

 

NWR welcomes constructive criticism. However, the company is also aware of lobbyist groups pushing for privatisation of the country’s resources, such as parks and resorts, for a self-serving agenda. It is in this light we would like to inform those with such interest that there should be no need to pull NWR down to achieve the above agenda as public-private sector co-operation can be accommodated under the Public Procurement Act (Act No:15 of 2015), Public-Private Partnership Act (Act No: 4 of 2017), State Finance Act (Act No: 31 of 1991).

Thank you Namibia

Customers lined up early to ensure that they got their Black Friday vouchers before everyone else

Windhoek, 13 December 2020 – When Namibia Wildlife Resorts Limited (NWR) conceptualised its first-ever Black Friday Special that started from 27 November 2020 up until 2 December 2020, little, did they anticipate the overwhelming response they would receive from the Namibian nation. Over six days NWR sold well over 10 000 vouchers to over 3 000 customers.

 

“At the time of coming up with the Black Friday Special, we intended to provide every Namibian with an opportunity to visit our resorts at an affordable price. This is why clients could either buy a voucher for the Eco resorts or Classic resorts or both. In our assessment, our agreement with web tickets enabled us to reach many of our clients who could not make it to our Windhoek or Swakopmund reservation offices. From the data that we analysed, our customers bought an average of three vouchers each. In our view, this is a testament of the loyal support from the Namibian market as well as the interest our nation has in visiting our resorts” says Dr Matthias Ngwangwama, NWR Managing Director.

 

Here is a group of friends that undertook the #Myfriendsarecoolerthanyours package recently at Sossus Dune Lodge

 

One lesson that NWR learned from Covid-19 was never to place its focus solely on the international market. During the Black Friday Special, NWR saw that there is a great opportunity in developing and focusing on the domestic market. However, NWR believes that first, one must understand the needs and wants of the local market and, subsequently, respond accordingly since their needs are much different from the international market. “Besides the Black Friday Special and other specials, we have been running, we started offering tour packages. The current package that has gained substantial interest is called #Myfriendsarecoolerthanyours, which has been primarily targeting Namibians who would like to visit Sossusvlei or the Etosha National park” says Dr Matthias Ngwangwama, NWR Managing Director.

 

A group of friends at Sossusvlei that went on the #Myfriendsarecoolerthanyours package

 

Lastly, NWR has equally made great strides in improving operational efficiencies at its resorts to be in a position to welcome its guests this festive season. “This is why we have allocated the necessary resources to ensure that when our guests arrive at any of our facilities, they will be welcomed by our friendly staff and much-improved resorts/camps. Equally, we would like to advise our guests that should they not receive the service they so desire, they should approach our resort management team on the ground to remedy the situation” says Mr Mufaro Nesongano, NWR Corporate Communications, Online Media & Sponsorships Manager.

 

A group of friends undertook the #Myfriendsarecoolerthanyours package recently.

NWR overhauls website

Dr. Matthias Ngwangwama – Managing Director

Windhoek, 3 December 2020 – If anything that 2020 demonstrated is the importance of an online presence. This presence allows for seamlsess and faster communication between organisations and clients. Thus Namibia Wildlife Resorts Limited (NWR) once again took it upon itself to overhaul its web presence with the sole intent of creating a better user experience for its guests. During the past few months, NWR, with the assistance of a professional web developer, Mr Samuel Kapembe of StalinKay, worked tirelessly to ensure that going forth guests would be in a position to interact, share and book their accommodation with ease and convenience.

“Hence when users log onto www.nwr.com.na they will see how simple yet informative our website has become. Resorts have now been listed under the various National parks they fall under. Guests will now be able to easily share their greatest moments with us via #NWRMoments, which will then appear on our website. At the same time, our specials of which we have become known for are easily accessible. Equally, guests will be able to chat directly with us from the site without the need to call or send an email. These changes are aimed at ensuring that anyone from across the world can find all things NWR at a centralised place” says Mr Mufaro Nesongano, NWR Corporate Communications, Online Media and Sponsorships Manager.

Since the last revamp of the NWR website, several changes have occurred in the industry. One of the major shifts has been for clients to plan and book their accommodation online. Therefore on the overhauled website like on the previous one, clients are going to be able to do this. Also, some of the establishments have 360-degree videos that will allow guests the opportunity to immerse themselves at some of the facilities. Similarly, visitors will have the opportunity to subscribe to our Newsletter in order to be the first to know when the company launches something.

Dr Matthias Ngwangwama, NWR Managing Director, who is a firm advocate for institutions and countries to embrace the 4th Industrial Revolution so that they remain relevant, is pleased with the work that was done on the website. “Although a lot of time and effort was spent on overhauling the website, I am glad that we took this long time to provide a world-class website to our customers. The disruption caused by Covid-19 once again presented us with the opportunity to ensure we remain digitally relevant through our new website in addition to our other digital platforms such as our mobile application which is also undergoing subtle touch-ups”.

 

NWR prepares Miles for holiday season

Preliminary work being done at Mile 108 for the new self-containing camping sites

Windhoek, 18 November 2020 – With a few weeks left before the festive season begins, several travellers are looking forward to taking a long-deserved break after the challenging year that 2020 has been. Namibia Wildlife Resorts Limited (NWR) is pleased to notify the travelling public that Jakkalsputz, Mile 72, Torra Bay will start welcoming guests as from 1 December 2020 while Mile 108 is currently open to the public with new developments currently underway.

Hardap Resort

 

Mr Sebulon Chicalu, NWR Chief Operations Officer, says that “I am quite delighted that the Miles will once again open to the public. It is also pleasing to note that we are currently adding self-contained campsites at Mile 108 that will cost N$ 400 per site/per day for 1 – 4 people staying less than ten days and only N$ 300 for 11 days and more. Additionally, for those guests of ours that would like chalet rooms, they are welcome to book at Terrace Bay resort”.

/Ai-/Ais Hotsprings & Spa

 

Over the past few months, NWR has been offering its /Ai-/Ais Hotsprings and Spa, Hardap and Waterberg facilities for isolation services to the Ministry of Health and Social Services. “With the easing of travel restrictions from our Government and the decline in individuals requiring isolation facilities, we have decided to allow the travelling public to make bookings at /Ai-/Ais Hotsprings and Spa, Hardap and Waterberg as from 1 December 2020. The past few weeks saw an increase in guests wanting to stay at these resorts, especially with the steady opening of borders throughout the SADC region” says Dr Matthias Ngwangwama, NWR Managing Director.

 

Waterberg Plateau

 

For those looking to make bookings, they are advised to send an email to reservations@nwr.com.na or call the Central Reservation Office at 061 285 7200.

NWR receives N$40 million support (grant) from shareholder

Dr Matthias Ngwangwama – NWR Managing Director

Windhoek, 25 October 2020 – Since mid-March 2020, when Covid-19 broke out in Namibia, the Namibia Wildlife Resorts Limited (NWR) board and management worked closely with their shareholder (Government of the Republic of Namibia through the Ministry of Public Enterprises) to find ways of mitigating the effects of the pandemic and ensuring the sustainability of the company.

 

Therefore, as the company has consistently communicated before, the past six months have been the most challenging for most Namibian companies in Namibia. The Covid-19 pandemic has and is still having, an enormous impact on the tourism and aviation-dependent organisations worldwide. Most, if not all, shareholders, company boards, executive management, in private and public sectors alike, have done the same in being first concerned with the wellbeing of their organisations.

It is therefore humbling that through the numerous interactive efforts between NWR and the shareholder since March 2020, a net outcome from these efforts is the N$40 million support availed on 20 October 2020 to the company in the FY2020/21 Mid-Year Budget Review and Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement. The last time the company received such financial support from the shareholder was in the year 2017 for an amount of about N$6 million.

With the outline of activities and the current conditions, the company is grateful for the support it has received. “We are therefore grateful to the shareholder, the Government of the Republic of Namibia, for their assistance in the current times. The large amount of the funds received are to be re-injected in the Namibian Economy through immediately settling overdue suppliers’ invoices. Equally, part of the funds received will be used for our employee costs (our wage bill and the current voluntary separation exercise)” says Dr Matthias Ngwangwama, NWR Managing Director.

NWR embarks on voluntary separation exercise

Dr Matthias Ngwangwama – NWR Managing Director

Windhoek, 18 October 2020 – One of Namibia’s foremost tourism organisation Namibia Wildlife Resorts Limited (NWR) began a voluntary separation exercise to align its staff numbers in light of the impact that Covid-19 has had on the tourism sector. From 22 September 2020 up until 22 October 2020 NWR has provided its staff with an opportunity to separate from the organisation voluntarily.

 

The voluntary separation exercise comes on the backdrop of its Board of Directors and Senior management team, taking a 25% reduction in earnings. However, these efforts alone have not been sufficient to place the organisation in a better financial position. Therefore the NWR EXCO submitted a cost-cutting plan to its Board of which they approved. One of the measures in the plan was voluntary separation with the view of ensuring the sustainability of the organisation.

 

NWR is offering its employees who would like to separate voluntarily the following

  • Two week’s salary for every year of uninterrupted service as a severance pay-out.
  • Any leave balances as at 30 September 2020, subject to a maximum of 60 days will be paid-out.
  • Any accrued leave days above 60 days will be paid at 50% or half of the excess days.
  • Any employee entitled to an annual birthday bonus, a proportion equal to the months since the last bonus will be paid out.
  • One month’s salary in lieu of notice.
  • Total Pension Fund credit in line with the Pension / Provident Fund Rules / Laws
  • Transport to the place of normal residence (within the borders of Namibia) for them and their belongings.

 

“Based on worldwide experiences, we are aware that it would be difficult for us to have the same staff profile pre-Covid. Most companies around the world have begun following the same trend to find ways of reducing their wage bill and other operational costs,” says Dr Matthias Ngwangwama, NWR Managing Director.

NWR Partners with NTA Apprenticeship Programme

Some of the apprentices at the Khorixas Rest Camp in class

 

Windhoek, 11 October 2020 – Namibia Wildlife Resorts (NWR) is making solid progress in giving effect to an apprenticeship funding agreement it entered into with the Namibia Training Authority (NTA), earlier this year. The agreement makes provision for the NTA to fund the apprenticeship training of 80 young Namibians, recruited from all fourteen regions, towards acquiring the National Vocational Certificate in Hospitality and Tourism qualification in the areas of ‘Core Commercial Cookery Skills’, ‘Food and Beverage Operations’, ‘Front Office Operations ’and ‘Housekeeping Operations’. Underlining the need for continuous investment in training to enhance the competitiveness of the Hospitality and Tourism sector, NWR Managing Director, Dr Matthias Ngwangwama described the apprenticeship partnership as an important step. “A competitive tourism sector requires continuous training, with a special focus on customer service. Over the years, we fulfilled this responsibility on an ad-hoc basis. However, with the financial support emanating from the NTA-funded apprenticeship programme, we are now able to gain better traction in doing our part to train Namibians in this important economic growth sector”. On his part, Namibia Training Authority Caretaker Chief Executive Officer, Mr Cornelis Beuke commended NWR for giving effect to the agreement. “Apprenticeship is a time-tested channel through which to provide young people with opportunities to enter high-value work-based learning. The NTA has of recent entered into many such agreements with other public and private sector partners. NWR did well amid COVID-19 to firm up arrangements, and we look forward to the first graduates from this initiative to enter the world of work with confidence and competence. Furthermore, Mr Beuke explained that “as an employer, NWR, by investing in talent development through apprenticeship, stands to gain a pipeline of loyal skilled workers to increase its productivity and improve the bottom line”. The NTA will fund each apprentice at the cost of N$ 160,800.00 over three years. As far as theoretical work and assessment preparation are concerned, the apprentices will receive support from two NTA-registered training institutions, namely the Okakarara Vocational Training Centre, in Otjozondjupa and the Homestead Skills and Technical Skills Academy, in the Ohangwena region.

 

Meanwhile, NWR is making strong inroads towards establishing its training arm. Namibia Wildlife Resorts Hospitality Institute (NWR Hi) is to have its main campus at the Khorixas Rest Camp in the Kunene region and a satellite campus at the Gross Barmen Resort in Otjozondjupa. “We recently applied to the NTA to be registered as a training institution, and we are hard at work to ensure that we meet the requirements”, Ngwangwama concluded.

NWR Board and Senior Management cut salaries by 25%

Dr Matthias Ngwangwama – NWR Managing Director

Windhoek, 20 September 2020 – For the past six months, all tourism companies have been severely affected by Covid-19. Namibia Wildlife Resorts Limited (NWR) being one of the dominate players was not spared from the impacts of the pandemic. With the negative effect on the operations of the business, NWR has had to pursue extensive cost-cutting and revenue-enhancing measures that enabled it to continue as a going concern.

 

 

“Whilst we aggressively cut-costs and continue to do so, we are not making any significant revenue at the moment. With Covid-19 being a part of us for the foreseeable future, our Board, Managing Director and Senior Management, with an E-Patterson grading, took a decision earlier this month to cut their salaries by 25%, effective from September 2020” says Mr Mufaro Nesongano, NWR Corporate Communications, Online Media and Sponsorships Manager.

It must be noted that this is not a populist decision but a deep-seated desire from the NWR Board and Senior Management team to ensure the company’s longevity and survival. “It is no secret that we play a vital role within the tourism sector as well as the Namibian economy. Thus, this decision is aimed at providing the company with further savings as we continue in uncharted waters” says Dr Matthias Ngwangwama, NWR Managing Director.

NWR looks to the future

Fish River Canyon
Fish River Canyon

Windhoek, 3 September 2020 – The Namibian Tourism Industry is currently experiencing one of its biggest challenges in recorded history and memory. As with all companies in Namibia and the world over, the past five months have been challenging and distressing.

 

Dr Matthias Ngwangwama - Managing Director
Dr Matthias Ngwangwama – Managing Director

In response, Namibia Wildlife Resorts Ltd (NWR) adjusted its business operations to withstand the challenges brought about by Covid-19. NWR embarked on various actions, such as signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with its social partner the Namibia Public Workers Union (NAPWU) which resulted in cost-cutting measures for the better good of the organisation. Equally, NWR adopted a new pricing model targetting the domestic market, which was able to sustain its operations thus far.

Popa Falls Resort
Popa Falls Resort

However, it is no secret that the domestic market alone is not sufficient to sustain the tourism sector. Thus, the official opening of the Hosea Kutako International Airport (HKIA) on 1 September 2020 as part of the Tourism Revival Initiative announced by the Namibian Government is a much-needed encouragement to the sector and NWR in particular. “We are aware that the opening of the HKIA is one of the steps towards the revival of the industry. We are hopeful that through its opening, a more positive sentiment will begin to filter into the industry as international travellers start arriving” says Dr Matthias Ngwangwama, NWR Managing Director.

Hobas Lodge
Hobas Lodge

Before the official opening of the HKIA, the industry had been and continues to be affected by the pandemic. Similarly, some of the travel limitations cast further doubt on any company in the industry recovering in the short-term. “We are, therefore, very mindful of the role that we fulfil in the Namibian business arena and social ecosystem. Thus as we look to the future, we understand that there is a long way to go before the sector experiences some of the occupancies it had pre-COVID-19” says Dr Ngwangwama.

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