Recording-breaking stats

Tourism arrivals edge toward 1.7 million

22 January 2020 | Tourism

Namibia recorded an unprecedented number of foreign arrivals in 2018 of 1.659 million, which was an increase of 3.2% from the 1.6 million arrivals the previous year. The number of tourists who visited Namibia increased to 1.57 million in 2018 from 1.499 million the previous year, which is a 3.9% increase.

This was announced by tourism minister Pohamba Shifeta yesterday at the launch of the Tourist Statistical Report for 2018.

The report indicates that of the 1.659 million foreign arrivals Namibia received in 2018, tourists accounted for 93.8% of the total, followed by same-day visitors at 4.9%, while returning visitors accounted for 0.9% and other categories 0.4%.

The largest number of tourist visitors in 2018 came from Angola (489 013), South Africa (299 319), Zambia (242 160), Zimbabwe (60 689) and Germany (124 622).

The report noted that there was an increase of 6.8% to 1.16 million visitors in the African market compared to 2017's 1.09 million, while the North American Region decreased with 8.4% from 39 576 tourists in 2017 to 36 262 in 2018.

The European market also declined with 1.9% from 311 636 visitors to 305 737. Overall, overseas tourists to Namibia decreased from 408 893 in 2017 to 356 590 in 2018.

Analysing the tourist arrivals by purpose of visit, business tourists fell from 205 845 arrivals in 2017 to 191 613 in 2018, making up only 12.3% of total tourist arrivals.

However, the category of visiting friends and family continued to dominate with 50.9% of total tourist arrivals, followed by 34.8% of tourists who came for holiday. Tourists who came for other purposes made up 2.1% of total arrivals.

According to the report, tourists intended to stay in Namibia for an average of 16 days, which is down from the average of 19 days the previous year. The majority of tourists came into Namibia by road (70.4%), while 28% preferred to travel by air.

Meanwhile, Air Namibia brought in 41.1% of the total tourist arrivals by air in 2018. This was a major increase from the 34.3% of the previous year. South Africa Airways brought in 21.9%, followed by Qatar Airways with 8.6%.

Shifeta stressed that with the national carrier still bringing in the lion's share of tourists, it is important that Air Namibia keeps flying.

“The public sees Air Namibia getting billions as a waste of money, but it is bringing billions into the country.” He added that the money that Air Namibia receives is an investment into the tourism sector, which provides thousands of jobs, and it will be catastrophic if the airline is lost.

Shifeta further said that the year-to-date tourism sector performance, especially inbound demand, remains remarkably strong despite the persisting global economic crisis.

“These figures give us confidence that we are making good progress in our efforts to grow and develop the tourism industry as a global player.”

He said the increase in the tourist arrivals help the tourism sector to contribute to the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and provide jobs across the value chain.

These days, Namibia is in a much better place than it was in previous years, Shifeta added. “We know this because statistics say so. We have achieved various development goals in providing a conducive environment, infrastructure such as roads and a host of other issues in order to further our national development agenda.” According to Shifeta, Namibia is close to reaching its goal of two million foreign arrivals. Predictions for 2019 indicate that foreign arrivals will stand at 1.76 million. The Tourist Statistical Report for 2019 is expected to be launched in August.

ELLANIE SMIT