Recovery of tourism sector a priority

15 October 2020 | Tourism

ELLANIE SMIT

WINDHOEK



The recovery of the tourism sector, which has been the hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic, will be a priority for the tourism ministry in the 2020/2021 financial year.

This according to the ministry's annual progress report for the 2019/2020 financial year, which said the sector has been severely impacted by the closure of borders and the complete absence of international tourists during recent months. The report said income to communal conservancies has also come to a standstill due to the absence of visitors, the closure of national parks and accommodation facilities as well as the ceasing of income-generating activities such as trophy hunting.

It, however, noted that despite the downturn, the tourism sector continued to grow its contribution to the economy during the 2019/2020 financial year.



Arrivals increased

In the Tourism Statistical Report, which was published during the period under review, it was reported that the number of tourism arrivals increased by 3.9% in 2018 with a record number of over 1.5 million visitors. “The trend remains constant as the European markets continue to dominate the tourist arrival numbers. The number of tourist arrivals as per the report was expected to grow to 1.6 million in 2019.”

Meanwhile, regarding the establishment of a national lottery, the consultative process for the Lotteries Act was finalised and the regulations were submitted to the justice ministry.

According to the report, a nationwide exercise was undertaken from February to March this year to register all gambling machines in the country. The main aim of the exercise was to register machines and their owners so that they obtain gambling licenses once the new Gaming and Entertainment Act comes into operation.



Gambling inspector team

This involved the appointment of a team of over 40 gambling inspectors, mainly from the tourism and finance ministries, who worked together with local authorities, the police, regional councillors and governors to undertake the registration exercise.

It targeted all locations where gambling machines are found including casinos, gambling houses, bars, shebeens and cuca shops.

However, this was not finalied due to the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdowns.



N$24m in environmental levies

Furthermore, new environmental levies were introduced in August 2019 and are being collected through the finance ministry.

A total of almost N$24 million of the proceeds from these levies was transferred to the Environmental Investment Fund of Namibia for re-investment in environmental protection-related initiatives.

Three new projects were also launched during the financial year, with funding from the Green Climate Fund and Global Environment Facility worth US$29.2 million (approximately N$491 million). A further three projects were operationalised with support from the German government to support community conservation, the development of a biodiversity-based economy and bio-innovation.

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