Namibian tourism u2018doomedu2019
Namibian tourism u2018doomedu2019

Namibian tourism ‘doomed’

In a snap survey, tourism companies indicated that they had to let go of 3 478 employees and on average lost about N$2.16 million in bookings in the first week the latest red list and quarantine restrictions were introduced.
Cindy Van Wyk


Should travel bans and the red-listing of southern African countries not be lifted promptly, tourism in the region, including Namibia, for 2022 will be doomed, and with that any hope of tourism recovery.

This will have dire consequences on numerous companies’ existence, jobs in tourism and conservation, said Gitta Paetzold, the CEO of the Hospitality Association of Namibia.

A tourism industry survey conducted in Namibia, Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe has already showed that bookings for December and January have declined by between 70 and 95%.

This after travel bans and restrictions were introduced against southern African countries at the end of November following the identification of the Omicron variant of Covid-19 by South African scientists.

The survey was conducted by Africa’s Eden Tourism Association, which is based in Botswana, and represents a wide range of membership in Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

In a snap survey with 80 selected members, 56 respondents indicated that they had to let go of 3 478 employees and on average lost US$135 000 (about N$2.16 million) in bookings in the first week the latest red list and quarantine restrictions were introduced.

“What is of even bigger concern is the fact that southern Africa, including tourism businesses in Namibia, are now receiving cancellations for reservations made deep into 2022, a sign that the international travel trade is losing trust in the region as a safe and accessible tourism destination, and opting for other open and unbanned destinations instead for future bookings,” Paetzold said.

Arrow through the heart

“The second half of 2021 has seen a gradual - though still modest -

improvement with occupancies moving from the teens to 20s to even 30%, according to the survey.

“2022 was starting to look as though occupancies would lift to something halfway reasonable.”

However, Omicron and the extremely swift imposition of quarantines, red lists and other restrictions has resulted in an instant collapse of tourist arrivals and the instant departure of the small international tourist numbers who were in southern Africa, it said.

“Worse still, the timing of these restrictions has shot an arrow through the heart of the booking season for 2022 which runs from September to mid-March every season. The modest build-up of forward bookings has ceased and reduced substantially as forward cancellations flood in. 2022 projections are now bleak, meaning the area will now have to endure a third very difficult survival year unless restrictions are very urgently reversed,” Africa’s Eden said.

According to the organisation, local tourists make up less than 30% of the region’s tourism, normally at unsustainable rates. The industry is heavily reliant on high-value, long-haul tourists. Key source markets include the United States, United Kingdom, European Union, New Zealand, Japan and Canada.

HAN has therefore called for an end to travel bans and the demands for quarantine on return from southern Africa.

It also said global and regional simplified and harmonised travel policies should be introduced, urging that all borders be reopened as closures in the past have not shown any effect on halting the spread of Covid-19.

Paetzold added that concerted efforts should be made for national and global vaccination outreach, as well as the sharing and acknowledgement of scientific data to base sound and rational travel policies on.

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Namibian Sun 2023-05-29

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