Concerns over Dorob Park New Year’s festival

PARTY SITE … The Amphitheatre Dune near Swakopmund where a music festival is to be held on 31 December. The event’s organisers are assuring that activities would not damage the environment, as per the conditions set by the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism. Photo: Contributed

The upcoming Camp Out Dune Fest ’23, scheduled to be held at the Amphitheatre Dune on 31 December, has sparked a wave of concern among local business owners and tour operators.

Worries about the event, which is expected to attract about 2 000 people to the Dorob National Park, are due to its potential environmental impact.

Key concerns include whether the organisers have obtained the necessary permits for the event, and how they managed to secure permission from the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism.

Local businesses have expressed their dismay, citing years of effort to rehabilitate and preserve the pristine nature of the area.

These efforts, they fear, could be undone in a single night of revelry.

A local businessman, who prefers to remain anonymous, says: “Someone from Windhoek gets the rights in our national [park] where we weren’t allowed an opportunity. I just don’t feel the way it’s been done is righ.”

A local tour operator, who also prefers to remain anonymous, says: “It was exactly these parties that were banned from the area many years ago due to massive destruction. We are still finding rubbish and glass in the sand from the last massive party 15 years ago.”

The amphitheatre’s last significant event in 2005 left a lasting negative impact on the environment, leading to its closure for such events.

“So now, it’s 18 years later, and there’s a party again,” he says.

Event organiser Jared Geyser, however, says the event is not “a spontaneous eruption after 15 years of silence”.

“We’ve spent N$200 000 on logistics alone, like creating a dedicated road to the venue, and we’ve been stringent about ecological considerations,” he says.

Geyser says the music festival will feature a 1,4km fencing perimeter, protective measures for local flora, and extensive waste management systems, including over 100 dustbins and dedicated toilet facilities.

“Our vision extends beyond just a festive gathering. We aim to create a harmonious balance between celebration and conservation.

“We’re focused on leaving a positive imprint, not just in terms of environmental impact, but also in promoting responsible enjoyment among the youth.”

The event has put in place measures like fire drums to prevent ground fires and a strict no-quad-bike policy, he says.

“We’re offering an alternative to aimless partying at Swakopmund. It’s about providing a space where youngsters can enjoy responsibly, without the repercussions of drunk driving or disturbing local peace,” he says.

Environment ministry spokesperson Romeo Muyunda has confirmed that the event has received the green light from the ministry.

“They have been given permission and have met the conditions. The event site is approved for such gatherings. The granted permit is in strict accordance with park rules, ensuring a balance between enjoyment and nature conservation,” he says.

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