Chief Executive Officer of Gondwana, Mannfred Goldbeck whose company is basking in the glory after attaining 20 years of operations in Namibia believes the sky is the limit in their quest to provide the best facilities in the hospitality industry.
True to the belief that time has a way of giving those that are patient what they want, Gondwana has grown their brands significantly from owning only one lodge 20 years ago to 14 country wide to date.
The company now employees over 600 Namibians, hence contributing in their little way to nation building through capacity building.
“Tourism is one of the world’s largest industries today and the fastest growing sector and in Namibia it is a critical activity for regional development. 20 years ago, Gondwana began humbly with just a few people. Our first lodge, Canyon Lodge was opened in 1996 to help funding a big conservation area the Gondwana Canyon Park,” he says.
He adds that, “The company also has four nature reserves close to Namibia’s greatest attractions and over the next two decades, more people who shared our sustainability philosophy came on board. Nowadays, Gondwana is owned by 64 shareholders, most of them Namibians and 98 percent of employees are Namibian.”
Goldbeck says in their tenure of operation the company has also contributed significantly to the country’s revenue earnings by bringing in the much needed foreign currency.
“Gondwana is built on three pillars, tourism, nature and people. All three pillars are essential for bearing the fruit of success. Without nature, no tourists, without tourists, no nature conservation and no jobs, without staff and the support of communities, no hospitality industry and no game keeping,” he says.
He also believes that the company has transformed in the past twenty years and has seen some of its lodges including, Gondwana Canyon Park, established in 1995, Gondwana Kalahari Park, Gondwana Sperrgebiet Rand Park and Gondwana Namib Park becoming the favourites for locals and tourist.
The company will establish a training academy for their staff in the future in a bid to improve skills for their staff.
“We are now taking our hospitality training and leadership development programme one step further. In January 2017 the new Gondwana Academy will open its doors.The Academy is firmly founded on Gondwana’s belief that together we grow, and so aims to be an initiative that not only enhances Gondwana’s service, but also the education and therefore professional growth of its staff,” he says.
The new Academy to be located at Kalahari Farmhouse is expected to be operational between January and June next year.
“The aim of the academy is to make sure that every staff member who passes through it will leave with enhanced leadership skills. Ultimately the vision includes being a source of training for the broader tourism industry and any young learners interested in a professional career in tourism. This is another way in which Gondwana is trying to help enhance the appeal of Namibia as a tourism destination,” he says.
Goldbeck admits that, “The availability of specialized skills poses a problem to a company like ours. As mentioned before, we are investing a lot of effort and capital into the training of our staff. But sometimes we need the assistance and knowhow of foreign specialists. It proves really difficult to obtain work permits for them.”
He also adds that, “We are aiming at expanding our portfolio according to our Gondwana philosophy and business principles. We will continue to create local employment and new businesses that cater to tourists as well as generating revenue and much needed foreign currency from visitors. We try to do whatever we can, wherever we can, to make Namibia a more competitive tourist-destination and to contribute towards the financial and economic development of Namibia.”