Tourism: Mega employer, mini budget

Only N$4 million was allocated to the Namibia Tourism Board (NTB) in 2019/20, N$1 million less than the revised amount for 2018/19.

30 April 2019 | Economics

Jo-Maré Duddy – The fencing of conservation areas and the upgrading of tourism roads are key priorities in the development budget of the ministry of environment and tourism in 2019/20.

Together, these two focus areas will absorb half of the development budget of N$92.4 million in the current fiscal year.

The development budget for environment and tourism is nearly N$28.7 million or 45% bigger than the estimated budget for 2018/19. Over the medium-term expenditure framework (MTEF) – which ends on 31 March 2021/22 – the development budget for the ministry totals about N$335 million.

Hotels and restaurants – a benchmark for the performance of the tourism sector – was in a recession in 2017 and 2018. Last year, hotels and restaurants recorded growth of -9.4%, significantly worse than the -1.9% of 2017.

At current prices, hotels and restaurants last year contributed nearly N$3.9 billion or about 2% to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) of around N$192.1 billion, according to the Namibia Statistics Agency (NSA).

NSA data shows that accommodation and food service activities provided jobs to 83 056 people in 2018. As such, it is one of the biggest employers in Namibia.

Protected areas

A total of N$43.5 million is available for the management of state protected areas this year.

Of this, N$30.7 million is earmarked for the fencing of conservation areas. According to budget documents, the money will be used for the construction and predator proof fencing at the southern border of the Etosha National Park.

Not only will this demarcate park borders, but it will also reduce human-wildlife conflict, strengthen law enforcement and curb illegal access to these areas, the development budget states.

In 2020/21, a further N$19.5 million will be earmarked for the project, followed by N$28 million in 2021/22.

Government will spend N$2 million this year to curb human-wildlife conflict. The money will be used to build predator-proof kraals, construct water points for game and provide early warning systems.

An additional N$4.3 million is available to drill boreholes and build water points at various places in national parks.

Roads, accommodation

The main tourist roads in Etosha will be upgraded this year. For the Dorob National Park feasibility studies for angling roads and picnic facilities are planned. In total, N$15.6 million was set aside for this.

At Sesriem and Ai-Ais, a retention fee for the upgrading of the sewerage facilities was budgeted for. At the Waterberg Plateau Park and the Mangetti National Park work will start to upgrade the sewer reticulation. In total, nearly N$6.6 million is available for these activities.

A total of N$30.3 million will be used to, among others, renovate staff houses and to build patrol stations for anti-poaching units, as well as for a main power upgrade at Okaukuejo in Etosha. This budget will also be used to construct the Ngoma Community Lodge.

Promotion

In the operational budget, N$4 million was allocated to the Namibia Tourism Board (NTB), N$1 million less than the revised amount for 2018/19. For 2020/21 and 2021/22, the NTB will also receive only N$4 million per year.

An annual budget of N$500 000 is available for the Zambezi Waterfront over the MTEF.

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