Bleak picture for tourism as industry reopens

02 September 2020 | Tourism

ELLANIE SMIT

WINDHOEK



As Namibia yesterday reopened its borders for international tourists, the latest room occupancy statistics for accommodation establishments in the country painted a bleak picture.

The CEO of the Hospitality Association of Namibia, Gitta Paetzold, said the room occupancy rates for July stood at 7.34%.

She explained that July is usually the first month of Namibia's tourism high season and last year there was a 60% occupancy rate.

“July 2020, however, shows a little ray of hope, as it was a slight increase on the 7.18% room occupancy recorded in June, and the 5.91% achieved in May, when the hospitality sector was allowed to resume trade here in Namibia.” Paetzold added that these occupancy rates of below 8% are nowhere near the break-even margin of 40-45%. It is therefore a clear sign that despite being operational, Namibian tourism accommodation establishments are currently all running at a loss and are eager to see the opening of national borders and the resumption of the normal tourism flow.

Tourism minister Pohamba Shifeta last week announced that Namibia would reopen Hosea Kutako International Airport to international tourists on 1 September.

He said that was a targeted initiative for leisure travellers that would be reviewed bi-weekly and amended as necessary.

All incoming tourists are required to test negative for coronavirus no more than 72 hours before travelling.

They must then spend a minimum of seven days at their first destination.



Flights resume

Ethiopian Airlines has announced that it will resume commercial and cargo flights to Namibia on 11 September and encouraged customers to book in advance to adhere to coronavirus regulations.

But Air Namibia said this week that it will extend its suspension of domestic flights until local travel will be allowed. That followed the government's announcement of a new lockdown of the Khomas Region.

“Additionally, the suspension of regional and international flights has been extended until further notice, depending on market demand and reopening of international borders of countries where the airline operates to,” Air Namibia said.

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