New Years Honours List includes one of Namibia’s Tourism Stalwarts, David Cartwright, Director of ATI Holidays

David J Cartwright, formerly of Fartown, Huddersfield and owner of Namibian based travel company, ATI Holidays has received the British Empire Medal in this year’s honours list.  Specialising in luxury holidays throughout Southern Africa, the company announced they were thrilled that Managing Director, David J Cartwright, has been awarded the British Empire Medal in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours list!  The award is cited for services to British National overseas, and relates to the work done by the company in assisting with repatriating British Nationals, caught in the African country post the Covid-19 lockdown of the African nation earlier in the year. The honour will be bestowed by the new British High Commissioner to Namibia, Charles Moore, in the New Year.

As a prominent member of the British expat community in Namibia, I have worked to assist numerous High Commissioners to Namibia in matters of sustainable  tourism, and the environment, resulting in my wife Charlotte and I having a brief audience with Prince William back 2018 to discuss sustainable, community tourism in Namibia.  I am also one of the founding members of the British Business Group, representing sustainable tourism and the environmental sector.

Back in mid-March, when the first two Covid-19 cases were reported in Namibia, the government took the step of stopping all international flights, and within 2 days closing all boarders, and restricting movements between regions within the country.  This abrupt and rather draconian lock-down trapped a good many British travellers, who simply couldn’t get back to the capital, Windhoek in time to make the last flights out, or we simply couldn’t get seats on over booked aircraft!  I was approach by HC, Kate Airey to assist in firstly putting together a manifest of those stuck here, and then provide them with accommodation in Windhoek while we made plans to try and repatriate them.

At the time the airports, air space, land & sea boarders, roads to the airports, all flights (charter or otherwise) and most accommodation facilities were closed, plus the neighbouring countries of Botswana & South Africa were refusing to accept any British citizens. Faced with some seemingly insurmountable odds, and bewildering bureaucracy, my team and the HC staff in Windhoek managed to locate a 50 seater jet, pilots and get permission from the Police, military and numerous departments of State to allow the plane to fly to Botswana where an Ethiopian Airlines jet was waiting to accept the 48 British citizens as they walked from one aircraft to the next – so avoiding the travellers ever officially entering Botswana.

It took some nerve and a little brinkmanship as right up to the plane getting airborne we were still being told that the plane wasn’t going to be allowed to land in Gaborone. Remarkably it did all come together and 48 made it safely via Addis to London Heathrow.