Tourism riddled with challenges

09 September 2019 | Crime

An analysis of the latest arrival numbers to Namibia suggest that the hospitality and tourism industry is growing, but this is not the case when detailed figures of the source markets and market segments are taken into account.

This is according to a new report by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), titled 'Hotels outlook: 2019 to 2023 Future resilience'.

According to the report the total number of tourist arrivals in 2017 reached more than 1.6 million, which is an increase of 2.2% from the previous year.

However, 73.8% of these visitors were from neighbouring countries and predominantly fell in the business, friends and family-related travellers' category.

Only 19.9% (320 139) tourists arrived from Europe (mainly leisure tourism), 2.5% from North America (mainly hunters and leisure tourism) and 3.8% from the rest of the world.

The number of business travellers visiting Namibia declined by 8.6% in 2017 to 205 845.

“Namibia is yet to capitalise on the potential offered by business tourism or the larger meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) sector,” the report notes.

It says occupancy figures from 2013 to 2017 suggest there has been no total growth during this period, only peaks and lows in the hospitality and tourism industry.

According to the report, the Namibian accommodation landscape is made up of approximately 3 100 hospitality businesses registered with the Namibia Tourism Board (NTB). These occupy a range of segments, including hotels, lodges, tented lodges, backpackers, bed and breakfast establishments, campsites and guest farms.

Of the registered accommodation businesses, approximately 580 relate to hunting farms, which are considered to be a separate market segment.

Most of the accommodation businesses are located in the countryside in rural or remote areas, providing a very diverse nature, bush and wildlife safari experience to the traveller.

Only Windhoek, as the capital city of Namibia, and Swakopmund provide larger independent and branded hotels.

“The hospitality and tourism industry in Namibia contributed N$5.2 billion to the country's GDP in 2017, 3.5% of total GDP. The industry also provided direct employment for 44 700 (people),” the report said.

It added that Namibia ranks higher than all other southern African countries, besides South Africa, for both safety and security and tourist service infrastructure.

It is third behind Mauritius and South Africa, among the countries analysed in the report. The report also analysed South Africa, Mauritius, Kenya, Tanzania and Nigeria.

“Further improvements in these areas will help Namibia boost its tourism market, while greater efficiency in its tax regime could help improve the contribution of the sector to the economy.”

According to the report the industry shows potential in the coming years, but it also faces notable challenges, including a lack of funding from government to maintain and repair the existing infrastructure, a lack of technology enablement, as well as a strategy to broaden the appeal of the country as a holiday destination among a wider cross-section of international tourists.

It says the biggest challenge for accommodation providers in Namibia is the lack of technological enablement, resulting in a high dependence on a value chain that is no longer sustainable.

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