Namibia’s tourism attractiveness dwindles

In July, which is usually the tourism high season, accommodation establishments in Namibia recorded only 11.4% room occupancy, in comparison to almost 60% occupancy in July 2019.

24 August 2021 | Tourism

ELLANIE SMIT

WINDHOEK

Confidence in Namibia as an attainable travel destination is dwindling, while another month of vaguely defined and restrictive Covid-19 rules may result in the collapse of tourism recovery.

This is according to the CEO of the Hospitality Association of Namibia (Han), Gitta Paetzold, who says they have just completed their monthly report for July, which reveals a very worrying result.

In July this year, commercial accommodation establishments in Namibia recorded an average of only 11.4% room occupancy.

This is just slightly more than last July, when room occupancy stood at 8.2% and Namibia's borders were still closed.

She pointed out that July is usually the start of the tourism high season and Namibia boasted with almost 60% occupancy in July 2019.

“Of concern is the fact that July this year is even down from the usually quiet month of June, in which Namibia managed to achieve an almost 16% occupancy at least.”

Covid tests

Paetzold said persistent and more stringent entry rules to Namibia since the end of July seem to be “killing some hard-fought-for foreign markets, especially the USA.”

She said the figures show that in July this year 4.13% of guest hosted at establishments in Namibia were from the United States.

That was higher than the USA occupancy of 3.84% in 2019.

Paetzold said the Namibian tourism industry, which had worked hard to grow the USA market, had anticipated a healthy growth in that market in the coming months.

“This hope has come crushing down with the introduction of the 72-hour Covid-19 test rule Namibia introduced at the end of July.”

She explained that this is because reaching Namibia with connecting flights via third countries is almost impossible within the 72-hour limit.

“Since the announcement, some Namibian tour operators have lost several millions in bookings from the USA market for the months of August and September, and with every day and week, the losses to the tourism sector increase.”

Paetzold said the tourism sector is not opposed to the 72-hour rule, which seems to be international norm.

But it has appealed to authorities to review the wording of the regulations to enable travellers from markets such as the USA and Asia to enter Namibia with valid test results.

“The Tourism Revival Initiative for Namibia started well in September, and Namibia could pride itself in the fact that as a country, we proactively worked towards the safe reopening of regional and international travel,” said Paetzold.

According to the Tourist Statistical Report for 2020, the USA was among Namibia’s top ten tourist markets with 4 219 visitors coming from that market. This is compared to the 25 836 US tourists Namibia received in 2019, while the report predicts that this year Namibia will receive only 689 tourists from that country.

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