Hospitality association disheartened

16 December 2020 | Tourism

ELLANIE SMIT



WINDHOEK

The Hospitality Association of Namibia (Han) has expressed disappointment that efforts by the tourism industry to provide a safe environment for tourists have not been recognised and seen measures relaxed.

This is while the informal and illegal trade carriers flourish uncontrolled, CEO Gitta Paetzold said.

“The regulated and controlled industry has spent much effort and finances to provide a safe environment and these efforts do not seem to be recognised.”

With travellers ready to hit the roads for a much-needed vacation this festive season, Paetzold said they are particularly disheartened by the fact that authorities have upheld the strict ban on alcohol sales on Sundays and public holidays.

She pointed out that this includes Christmas and other festive public holidays and will therefore heavily impact the income opportunities of businesses in the tourism sector over the next two weeks.

Low occupancy rates

Meanwhile, the room occupancy rates at accommodation facilities stood at a mere 13.46% last month, compared to 56.44% last November.

These results emanate from the regular tourism room occupancy statistical reports processed by Han, after submissions its members across the country.

Paetzold described the results as a sad comparison to 2019.

“We have come a long way and the path through 2020 was a difficult one, especially for the tourism sector.”

Since the end of February, tourism stakeholders, both from private and the regulatory bodies, have been in close contact to steer through unprecedented times, she said.

‘Shell shocked’

According to her, the international travel ban in mid-March resulted in a ‘shell shocked’ state for most, while hope for recovery slowly returned in May with the opening of the sector for domestic travel.

“Since then, there have been many ups and downs, moving back and forth through various stages of coronavirus restrictions, alcohol bans, regional lockdowns and then the launch of Namibia’s Tourism Revival Initiative in September.”

Paetzold said Han, together with other associations of organised tourism, the Namibia Tourism Board, the tourism ministry and other stakeholders, have been hard at work to prepare for a post-coronavirus time and the new normal.

“Setting up tourism safety protocols, encouraging service providers to implement these and working towards the restart of tourism, hoping that the commitment and demonstration of willingness to adapt to new protocols and measures to provide social distancing and increased hygiene would invite trust in this regulated sector from regulators and authorities to allow businesses to resume under the new circumstances.”

While grateful for the gradual advances made by Namibia in terms of border re-opening, the return of international airlines and the welcoming of international tourists to Namibia, Paetzold said they were further encouraged by the positive feedback received from visitors regarding how the country provided a safe and enjoyable holiday for visitors.

Hopeful

“We were hopeful that this positive trend and trust could be further expanded and especially the hospitality and catering sector was working towards the further relaxing of measures, especially in the view of providing the very popular wine and dine experience for guests during the holiday and festive season.”

She, however, said the hospitality sector is committed to get through this difficult period.

Han appealed to service providers and the public to respect, adhere to and apply all safety measures and protocols

“We would also like to appeal to the public to act responsibly, to avoid crowds, respect the rules of wearing masks, sanitising and other safety measures that are geared to curb the spread of the virus.”

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