16% Tourism occupancy rate during 2020

21 January 2021 | Tourism

ELLANIE SMIT

WINDHOEK



The overall occupancy in the tourism hospitality sector last year reached a mere 16.08% of total capacity, compared to 53% in 2019.

The CEO of the Hospitality Association of Namibia (HAN), Gitta Paetzold, said a benchmark figure of between 42% and 45% occupancy is needed to break even in terms of operational costs to run a tourism business.

“The low 16% clearly shows that despite all good intentions, the Namibian tourism industry is in a very precarious state financially and the continued limitations and restrictions on international and regional travel aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus, are virtually strangling the tourism sector.”

She said only time will tell how many of the close to 5 000 registered accommodation establishments, tour operators and car rentals in Namibia will survive this crisis.



Lockdown

Paetzold said during the months of lockdown and closed borders between April and August, Namibian accommodation establishments recorded between 5% and 8% occupancy, mainly due to domestic travel that was possible since May, and the quarantine accommodation imposed on returning residents.

“Then the Tourism Revival Initiative was launched in September with the first international flights coming in from Europe (Eurowings) and Africa (Ethiopian Airways and Airlink/SA), and the influx of travellers saw the occupancy rate for the fourth quarter rise to 18.5% and, as statistics show, a good 17% of the guests were visitors from Europe, while almost 6% came from South Africa during the fourth quarter alone.”

Paetzold said Namibians also made use of the opportunity to travel inside their country and for the first time Namibians constituted over half (53.4%) of the total occupancy. This was followed by visitors from Germany, Austria and Switzerland (17.8%) and South Africans (6.4%).



Resilience

She said to allow for any form of rescue and recovery in tourism going forward, Namibians need to show resilience and commitment to a united, national effort to the Tourism Revival Initiative launched by the government in September.

“What is more, Namibia in general and the tourism industry specifically depends on the influx of foreign currency and income to finance the operations of tourism and rescue the cash-strapped sector.”

She added that HAN, together with all other associations and the Namibia Tourism Board, have worked hard to ensure that the Namibian tourism sector is well versed with extra hygiene measures and tourism protocols that offer the necessary safety and coronavirus preparedness to guests and travellers.

Paetzold said Namibia needs to send out a strong message to the world that the country is eager to welcome travellers and that there should be clear messaging at all levels of correspondence in terms of open borders, travel measures and requirements, and tourism protocols.