Govt introduces plan to protect Sandwich Harbour

TOURIST ATTRACTION … Tour operators in the Sandwich Harbour area.

The Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism (has introduced a concession plan aimed at preserving Sandwich Harbour, a vital ecological site recognised under the Ramsar Convention.

Sandwich Harbour, south of Walvis Bay, is known for its breathtaking landscapes and abundant wildlife, but the area has faced significant challenges in recent years due to unchecked tourist activities. According to the ministry’s spokesperson, Romeo Muyunda, recent spot checks by the ministry revealed troubling disrepair, with numerous tour operators not paying entry fees and bringing clients into the protected area without the required permits.

“The status quo is unsustainable and detrimental to Sandwich Harbour,” Muyunda said.

“Illegal tours and the lack of adequate facilities have led to severe ecological footprints, including littering and the degradation of natural habitats. Our goal with this concession is to implement a regulated system that ensures environmental conservation while still allowing public access.”

The concession strategy, advertised on 28 March, includes exclusive rights for a successful bidder to manage the entrance, maintain facilities and guide tourists and motor vehicle clubs through the area. The plan also involves the construction of a non-permanent kiosk at the entrance to enhance service delivery and monitor access.

Muyunda acknowledged critics who argue that while the intentions are commendable, the execution of such concessions must be transparent and inclusive to avoid monopolistic practices that could harm the local tourism economy.

He also noted that concerns have been raised about the minimal fee structure, which should balance affordability with the need to fund conservation efforts.

“We are committed to working with all stakeholders to ensure that this initiative benefits both the environment and the people who rely on Sandwich Harbour for their livelihoods,” Muyunda said.

“Transparency in the tender process and strict compliance with environmental guidelines will be paramount.”

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