Chaos at border posts

Contrary to earlier indications, foreign visitors are not allowed to enter Namibia by road, the health minister said yesterday after tourists were turned away at the Ariamsvlei and Noordoewer border posts.

13 October 2020 | Tourism

FRANCOISE STEYNBERG

WINDHOEK



Chaos erupted this past weekend at the Noordoewer and Ariamsvlei border posts as tourists were turned away.

Health minister Kalumbi Shangula told Namibian Sun's sister publication Republikein that no international tourists may enter Namibia by road.

“Tourists can only enter Namibia through the Hosea Kutako International Airport and the Walvis Bay Airport,” Shangula stressed.

The executive director in the home affairs ministry, Etienne Maritz, on Sunday met with the ministries of health and tourism. After the meeting Maritz told Republikein that tourists are not allowed to enter by road, “but that it is a recommendation from the health ministry.”

The issue seems to be that border posts do not have enough capacity for testing facilities.



Hunting trip goes bad

The Intercape bus service in South Africa has also confirmed telephonically that both the Noordoewer and Ariamsvlei border posts are closed.

According to Karl Stumpfe from Ndumo Safaries, a South African father and son were among some of the tourists that were able to enter Namibia at Noordoewer, but not without drama.

The father writes in a WhatsApp message: “We have now been through a couple of wars, of which the smallest was the Second World War.

“Have been driving 27 hours with the Sleepliner. Started with 60 on the bus, now just 10. During the 7.5 hours at the border post and a lot of fighting, 30 people were sent back to Cape Town.”

He says the other 20 people were placed in quarantine at Lüderitz and Karasburg. “At Mariental the police chased us in with sirens and said there were four people on board whose papers were not in order,” said the hunter.

Stumpfe said they finally arrived safely in Windhoek and on Sunday flew to Katima Mulilo for a hunting trip by Ndumo Safaris in the Zambezi Region.

According to him he has plenty of bookings from South African hunters, but they will now rather fly in.

Meanwhile, a tourist who entered the country on 2 October with a valid negative coronavirus test that was done on 30 September, subsequently tested positive at Outjo on his fifth day in Namibia, according to the health ministry.



Flights cancelled

Another blow hit the tourism industry last week when Qatar Airlines cancelled its flights to and from Windhoek.

A spokesperson for Qatar Airlines, Noor Abdulla Jassmi, confirmed the cancellation of flights to Namibia in a statement.

He said although the airline tries to operate as many flights as possible, many routes are commercially not viable due to the huge decrease in the worldwide demand for flights.

“After careful consideration we decided to suspend the Windhoek route for 2020.” Jassmi said all affected passengers were advised to make alternative travel plans to other destinations or to arrange for a refund.

“We understand that it is important for many of our passengers to have access to flights. Review continues and our intention is to reset all flights according to general conditions and market demand,” he said.

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