It will be the end of the road

11 October 2018 | Columns

The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) has announced that for some years now, they have raised their security concerns with local authorities, but to date nothing has been done.

If Namibia fails this security audit, every single airport in the country fails because the airspace of Namibia fails.

By implication, international airlines currently landing at Hosea Kutako, bringing tourists with foreign currency, will no longer fly to Windhoek or anywhere else for that matter. Air Namibia will no longer be able to fly to international destinations, save maybe for Angola and countries like Mozambique, who too have no ICAO rating.

The consequences of this will be catastrophic for the country.

It is said that at Tuesday's high-level emergency meeting, neither Air Namibia nor the Namibia Airports Company (NAC) were present.

We simply cannot afford this type of lackadaisical attitude towards our tourism industry, which in these tough times is the only industry that is still performing. Thousands of jobs will be lost. Our smaller lodges, and possibly some bigger ones, will collapse. Our conservancies, who rely on international trophy hunters, will collapse. In fact, our entire hunting industry will collapse.

Do we really understand the repercussions of failing this security audit?

Yes, we can withdraw as a signatory and member country, but this will help us nothing. Zip. Nada.

Jobs, related, direct and induced, stand at roughly 102 000 in the tourism industry. If we work on an average of eight to ten dependents per wage earner, we are looking at a lot of people.

Tourism is one of those golden geese. Other countries, those richer than us, want to come and see our open spaces and animals. They bring forex - lots of it. They buy souvenirs, they eat and they travel. They tell others.

They fly here.

In 2018, tourism contributed 3% of total GDP directly, and the total contribution towards GDP is 14%. This is according to the World Travel and Tourism Council.

Can we honestly afford to lose that?

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