Record 1.6 million foreign arrivals

The tourism sector has significant potential for further growth, says tourism minister Pohamba Shifeta.

14 December 2018 | Tourism

Namibia recorded a record number of 1.6 million foreign arrivals last year, representing an increase of 2.2% from the 1.57 million of the previous year.

Nearly 1.5 million arrivals were recorded in 2017, an increase of 2.1% from the previous year when 1.46 million tourists had visited Namibia.

This was announced by tourism minister Pohamba Shifeta when he launched the Tourist Statistical Report for 2017.

The report indicates that tourists accounted for 93.2% of the total arrivals, followed by same-day visitors at 5.1%, returning visitors at 1.3%. Other categories of visitors accounted for 0.4% of the total.

The largest number of tourist visitors in 2017 came from Angola (403 129), South Africa (325 968), Zambia (195 289), Germany (123 022) and Zimbabwe (89 241).

The report noted a 0.3% decrease in African visitors compared to 2016, while North American visitors increased by 11.1% and Europeans by 5.7%.

The bed occupancy rate of the hospitality sector increased from 33% in 2016 to 36% last year.

According to the report the highest bed occupancy rate was observed in 2014 at 38% and then it fell to 28% in 2015.

The Kunene and Hardap regions had the highest bed occupancy rate at 46.7% and 43.6% respectively, while Omusati and Ohangwena recorded the lowest bed occupancy at 12.6% and 5.8% respectively.

“We see bed occupancy rates for some regions such as Zambezi (16.1%), Ohangwena and Oshana (13.6%) are extremely low.

“As part of our tourism growth strategy we would like to see the geographic spread of tourists across all regions. Revenue flows are more when tourists overnight. We have to urgently look at what are the barriers to growth in these regions and address them accordingly,” said Shifeta.

He also pointed out that tourists spend more time at Namibia's more popular destinations such as Etosha National Park, Naukluft and the coast, and added that especially the area around the Fish River Canyon needs to be developed with more establishments.

Analysing the tourist arrivals by purpose of visit, business tourists fell by 8.6% in 2017.

The category of 'visiting friends and family' continued to dominate with 44% of total tourist arrivals, followed by 37.8% of tourists who came for holidays.

Tourists who came for other purposes were about 2.9% of total tourist arrivals.

According to the report tourists intended to stay in Namibia for an average of 19 days, which was the same as the previous year.

The majority of tourists entered Namibia by road (70.7%), while 27.2% travelled by air and 0.6% by sea. Other modes of travel made up 1.5% of the total.

Air Namibia brought in 34.3% of the total tourist arrivals by air in 2017. This was a distinct drop from the 43.6% that it had brought in the previous year. South African Airways brought in 30%.

Shifeta stressed that with Air Namibia still bringing in the lion's share of tourists to Namibia it was important to support the efforts of the national carrier.

“This shows why we cannot do away with Air Namibia's Windhoek/Frankfurt route and must support the airline.”

He said these days Namibia is a much better place than it was in previous years.

“We know this because statistics say so. We have achieved various development goals in providing a conducive environment, infrastructure such as roads and a host of other issues in order to further our national development agenda,” said Shifeta.

He said overall the figures indicated that Namibia was making good progress in its efforts to grow and develop the tourism industry.

“The sector has significant potential for further growth.

There are still underdeveloped opportunities in the product range in and around mega-attractions.”

ELLANIE SMIT

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