Namibia: Anti-Seal Campaign Worries Government
6 July 2012
GOVERNMENT has put together a task team to deal with negative international
publicity surrounding Namibia's annual seal cull and its effect on tourism,
especially the country's chances to host the Adventure Tourism World Summit
(ATWS) next year.
Namibia is one of three countries shortlisted to
host the global event, which is expected to lure about 600 players in the
adventure tourism industry to the country. Should Namibia be chosen, it will
also be the first time the ATWS will take place in Africa.
shortly after the Adventure Travel Tourism Association (ATTA) sent its
inspection team to Namibia in May, anti-sealing activists calling themselves
Just for Seals Namibia launched a petition to get the body to reject the
country's bid. By yesterday afternoon, 5,557 people around the globe had
signed the petition.
At a meeting of the tourism industry on Monday,
marketers voiced their concern about the anti-sealing campaign, set to start
on July 15, and the impact it might have have on tourist bookings.
Gitta Paetzold, chief executive officer of the Hospitality Association of
Namibia (HAN), yesterday told The Namibian that the consensus at the meeting
was that Namibia needed a national strategy on the seal issue. "We all need
to convey the same message," she said. Paetzold said Namibia virtually has
the ATWS in the bag, and that the seal controversy could be the "only
Acting Permanent Secretary of Environment and Tourism Erica Akuenje
scheduled the first meeting of the task force for yesterday afternoon.
Although the seal cull doesn't fall under her Ministry, the seal issue is
used to impact the tourism industry negatively.
Akuenje wasn't available for comment yesterday afternoon. The Ministry's
director of tourism, Sem Shikongo, referred all questions to Akuenje and
told The Namibian that it was an "an internal Government meeting".
Meanwhile, the anti-sealing activists are stepping their campaign. The
Seals of Namibia on Wednesday appealed to its more than 4,000 supporters on
its Facebook page to start tweeting Hollywood superstar Charlize Theron, who
is currently filming 'Mad Max 4' in the Namibia Desert.
something like this ... @charlizeafrica please be a voice for 85000 seal
pups that will be clubbed to death in Namibia," the appeal suggests.
enough people can tweet her, maybe we can get her to see the tweet," it
says, adding that "as everyone knows she is a huge animal lover".
In addition to the petition to boycott the ATWS, anti-sealing campaigners
are also running other petitions, gaining support mainly through the
internet. By yesterday afternoon, more than 63,000 people had signed The
Seals of Namibia's petition to stop the cull. In addition, 8,000 people have
signed a petition to US President Barack Obama to stop giving Namibia money
through the Millennium Challenge Corporation. "To continue this funding, at
the taxpayer's expense, is unconscionable," the petition reads.
Nearly 1,000 people have also signed a petition to boycott all Namibian
products until the Government abolishes the annual seal cull.