Hope for tourism recovery

13 September 2021 | Tourism

ELLANIE SMIT



WINDHOEK

The tourism ministry is developing a tourism recovery plan which will support the continuous government efforts to reboot the sector and offer opportunities to rebuild.

“The tourism recovery plan will be dynamic and practical as it is necessary to respond to the continuously evolving scenarios of the Covid-19 pandemic and the different ways in which it is impacting on the sector,” said tourism minister Pohamba Shifeta.

Shifeta was providing an update to Parliament on the impacts of the pandemic on the sector and efforts to revive and reboot it.

He said the update is based on the three reports that were recently completed, namely the socioeconomic impact assessment (SEIA) of Covid-19 on the tourism sector in Namibia, the Tourist Statistical Report for 2020 and the Tourism Revival Initiative Statistical Report for the period September 2020 to March 2021.

Shifeta said since independence, the tourism sector had shown sustained year-on-year growth culminating in a record breaking 1. 596 million tourists arriving to visit Namibia in 2019.

The Tourist Statistical Report for 2020 shows that only 169 565 tourists arrived in Namibia last year and that 81% of these arrived during the period of January to March 2020, before the pandemic reached the country.

“This shows an overall decline of 89% in terms of tourist arrivals to Namibia in 2020 compared to 2019,” the minister said.

He further said that the tourism revival initiative statistic report for the period of September 2020 to March 2021, during which the tourism revival initiative had been implemented, shows that 61 663 international tourists arrived in the country.

Unprecedented impact

“This is below our expectation and is likely to be due to the trend for would-be travellers from source markets to stay home and the continued fear to travel. Lockdown measures and travel restrictions in various countries also continue to hamper the recovery of the sector.”

He said that this situation has had an unprecedented impact on tourism businesses including, amongst others, restaurants, accommodation establishments, tour guides and tourism transport operators.

“Businesses operating in the sector have had to endure declining revenues, scaling down of operations, capital losses, retrenchments and wage reductions, increased prices of inputs and disruptions to supply.”

He said there is a slow recovery and increase in arrivals over recent months as a number of accommodation establishments, restaurants and places of leisure have opened up for business and airlines have resumed leisure flights to Namibia.

“We are furthermore encouraged by the recent downgrading of Namibia in terms of Covid-19 risk by the Centre for Disease Control and the increasing numbers of people being vaccinated in the country.”

Sustainability and resilience

He said as a ministry, they have learnt that it is imperative to have both international and domestic tourism travellers for the sustainability and resilience of the tourism sector without relying on one market only.

“We have also identified the need for the sector to develop and promote unique products relating to gastronomy, astro- tourism, agro-tourism, heritage, cultural tourism and village tourism to grow the sector and associated tourism industries.”

Shifeta added that there will be a strong focus on marketing what Namibia has to offer and the ministry, in conjunction with Namibia Tourism Board, is in the process of running a marketing campaign aimed at creating awareness within the domestic market.

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