Tourism makes urgent appeal to save jobs

23 August 2021 | Tourism

ELLANIE SMIT

WINDHOEK

The tourism industry has appealed for an urgent amendment of the wording in the Government Gazette with regard to Covid-19 PCR tests required to enter Namibia.

The tourism industry argues that if the current wording were to remain in place, it would result in 60% cancellation of bookings held by long-haul travellers.

This can be extrapolated to 30 or 40 businesses across Namibia in both rural and urban areas.

Over a year, this would result in the loss of N$20 million in bookings.

Crude extrapolation across 40 businesses is up to N$800 million direct loss, and 3 000 Namibians stand to lose their jobs, according to a letter submitted to the tourism ministry last week.

According to CEO of the Hospitality Association of Namibia, Gitta Paetzold, the association, the Tour and Safari Association of Namibia and some key tourism service providers got together last week to draft this urgent appeal.

Paetzold said the letter was delivered to the tourism ministry on Friday, who indicated their intention to urgently engage with their counterparts at the health ministry as well as the home affairs ministry.

Ambiguity

The letter says while the tourism industry supports efforts to protect Namibians and their health, there is ambiguity in the regulation that a test result may not be older than 72 hours, calculated from the date that the sample for testing was taken.

“We request the public health regulations to be amended to the original wording of not older than 72 hours up to time of first embarkation.”

According to the letter, this is in line with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) standard wording from first embarkation.

It says that would make it possible for visitors from East Asia (Hong Kong, Singapore, China) and North America to reach Namibia.

“We kindly request the authorities to amend the regulation to its original wording of 72 hours up to time of first embarkation. This will harmonise Namibia’s regulations with South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Kenya and many other countries.

“This change will help to keep businesses open. It will save Namibian jobs, and it will help to ensure that the tourism industry - Namibia’s third largest industry prior to the pandemic - survives.”

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