Tourism cannot survive without foreigners

The Namibian tourism industry says as important as domestic tourism is for the sector, it will not be able to survive without the reopening of borders to international travellers.

22 July 2020 | Tourism

ELLANIE SMIT

WINDHOEK



The latest statistics indicate that room occupancy rates at Namibian tourism accommodation establishments have dropped to drastically low levels.

The average rate recorded for room occupancy stands at a mere 7.71% for the month of June, compared to 51.21% last year.

During the second quarter of June a room occupancy rate of only 4.86% was recorded in comparison to last year when the rate was 53.98%.



Doom and gloom

According to Hospitality Association of Namibia (HAN) CEO Gitta Paetzold, this spells doom for the tourism sector.

The results emanate from the regular room occupancy statistics processed by HAN after submissions by its members across Namibia.

Paetzold said the statistics speak for themselves on the impact the lockdown and travel ban have had on the tourism sector since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

She said as important as domestic tourism is for the sector, it will not be able to survive without leisure travel and the reopening of borders.

According to Paetzold in March there was a general feeling of shell-shock in the tourism sector with the national lockdown following so soon after the travel ban and all were keen to see it blow over.



Dashed hopes

She said in May, Namibia was fortunate enough to see the hospitality sector return to business and in June restaurants were able to resume their popular wine and dine service.

“There were concerted efforts for domestic tourism promotion, attractive packaging and pricing to encourage Namibians to travel and experience the beauty of their motherland and we in tourism were grateful to see some Namibians take up this offer, hopeful that we could win them over as good ambassadors for tourism in Namibia.”

However, for tourism in Namibia to survive the sector needs the resumption of leisure travel and the reopening of borders. “Occupancy levels of below 10%, and as low as less than 5% occupancy in the second quarter of 2020, spell doom for our sector, and while the contribution of the domestic travel market is highly valued, Namibian tourism and the economy in general will need the influx of foreign exchange earnings and the numbers of travellers to help us reach occupancy levels to above 50% again to help the tourism industry break even.”

Paetzold stressed that this can never be achieved through local and regional travel.

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