Three countries proposed for tourist arrivals
20 July 2020 | Tourism
The tourism industry has recommended that Namibia should open its borders to Germany, Botswana and Ethiopia during a tourism revival initiative, which was due to start last week, but has seemingly fallen through as a surge in local Covid-19 infections continues.
The three countries were proposed in a targeted tourism revival strategy that was submitted by the tourism sector to government on how the country can open for tourists again.
According to the document, this trial period was supposed to start on 15 July and would also be known as phase 1 of the strategy, after which 20 other countries were suggested in phase 2 that was planned to begin on 15 August.
The aim of the strategy, submitted by the Federation of Namibian Tourism Associations (FENATA), was to reopen Namibian borders to visitors in a safe and responsible manner, without putting the nation as well as visitors or tourism staff at unnecessary risk, while at the same time restarting tourism to prevent economic decline. According to the strategy, all recommended measures are also subject to coronavirus-related health developments in Namibia.
The criterion used to select countries for the first phase was that they should have fewer than 30 new infections per 100 000 inhabitants, calculated as a seven-day moving average.
The strategy suggested that during the trial period, only air travel at Hosea Kutako International Airport should be allowed and that land border posts should only open for leisure tourism to bordering countries that meet the requirements.
It said that upon arrival in Namibia, the Namibian Airports Company (NAC) must ensure general operations at the Hosea Kutako International Airport are coronavirus-ready as per recommendations of the Airport Council International or other relevant authorities and Namibian special coronavirus-related health regulations.
It was suggested that arriving tourists undergo screening at the airport or port of entry. This entails temperature checks and completion of a basic health questionnaire.
Furthermore, it said a full travel itinerary will have to be submitted with the arrival form to border officials. The travel itinerary must include full name and contact details of all travellers, contact details of all booked accommodation establishments for all nights in Namibia, and contact details of the organising tour operator or car rental company.
“Tourists must be able to readily present the full itinerary to any Namibian law enforcement agent or medical professional at any given time during the stay in Namibia (ideally this could be achieved by a predefined form that could be sent to the visitor prior to departure).”
It was also suggested that tourist contact details must include a Namibian mobile phone number, to be obtained on arrival and at which the tourists can be reached during their stay in Namibia.
The tourism industry also said that tourists should sign a confirmation form agreeing to adhere to social distancing protocols and health measures during their stay in Namibia.
“In case of a planned self-drive tour, it is mandatory that at least one person per rental vehicle downloads the to be defined Travel Buddy App, which allows tracing of their movements. Tourists must confirm that they are obliged to present the app on their phone to any law enforcement agent, if requested to do so and failure to have the app will result in a fine.”
The strategy suggested no mandatory supervised quarantine if all the above criteria are met.
FENATA however stressed that this was only their proposal made on the modalities how they believe tourism could open up safely and securely during the first phase.
“The document therefore remains a working draft with no policy implications at this stage.”