High-risk classifications concern tourism industry

02 February 2021 | Tourism

ELLANIE SMIT



WINDHOEK

Germany has now also added Namibia to the list of high incidence areas for coronavirus cases, declaring it as a high-risk country last Friday. This has prompted the Namibia Travel and Tourism Forum to express its concern to German authorities.

The forum addressed a letter to the Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building and Community in Germany, Federal Ministry of Health, Federal Foreign Office and the embassy of the Germany in Windhoek.

According to forum founder Nrupesh Soni, it is an open platform for all tourism businesses in Namibia and tries to represent the sector in large.

He said the move to classify Namibia as a high-risk country came as a big surprise and will hamper the just restarted tourism industry to a major extent.

“Especially as Namibia had been, in the second half of 2020, one of the only three African countries recognised by your ministries as a low-risk country.”

He said Namibia has been declared a high-risk country because of a particularly high number of coronavirus cases.

“It is unknown on what figures this decision has been based.”

Decrease in cases

Soni said that from World Health Organisation and health ministry figures, one can see that Namibia has for the last few weeks seen a decrease in coronavirus cases – reducing from 130 to in the 70s.

“As of 31 January, our seven-day incidence rate stands at 61, from 126 exactly three weeks ago. Actually, the Namibian seven-day incidence rate is lower than any member country of the European Union, except Finland.”

He added that it is unclear and incomprehensible why the German authorities came to the conclusion that Namibia should be listed as a high-risk country.

“This move seems to be motivated by internal politics and are more of a symbolic character, hampering not only the tourism industry in Namibia - which is one of the most important economic sectors in the county - but also the German aviation industry.”

Lufthansa airlines just recently announced two more weekly flights between Frankfurt and Namibia, making it five in total, he said.

Largest tourist source

“Namibia is at the moment moving closer to the ‘magical’ seven-day incidence rate of 50 than being a high-risk country.

“Also taking into account that 2.5 million Namibians live on a surface area 2.5 times larger than Germany, we trust that once the threshold of 50 is reached, Namibia will be once again be declared a safe country to travel to and no restrictions whatsoever will apply.”

Soni said about 120 000 tourists from Germany visited Namibia annually before the outbreak of the coronavirus, and added that Germany is the largest overseas source market for the Namibian tourism sector.

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