Tourism slowly picking up

27 October 2021 | Tourism

ELLANIE SMIT

WINDHOEK

Accommodation establishments in Namibia recorded an average 27.2% room occupancy in September, which is almost four times higher than last year.

Last September, room occupancy stood at a mere 6.8%.

However, the CEO of the Hospitality Association of Namibia (Han), Gitta Paetzold, says the room occupancy recorded for September this year is still just a third of the average occupancy for the month in previous years.

She further said that the occupancy figures for the third quarter of 2021 indicates a 19% occupancy rate, compared to less than 8% last year.

This figure stood at almost 65% pre-Covid, in 2019.

“So, while we are not nearly close to normal times yet, the current trend in tourism is one of positivity and hope for things to gradually increase and tourism surely is on the road to recovery,” said Paetzold.

On the road

She said about 45% of guests at accommodation establishments during September were Namibians.

“However, the EU remains a key source market with over 38% of the guests coming from various European countries, while over 10% of guests came from South Africa, a clear sign that Namibia's traditional source markets are keen and committed to return to Namibia.”

According to Paetzold, signs on the country’s roads also point to positive trends, with numerous self-drive tourists on tour throughout Namibia and car rental companies running out of stock, as demand is increasing.

“As for the accommodation sector, due to growing demand, there are currently very attractive job and career opportunities opening up in this sector, with many establishments looking for skilled staff in housekeeping, guest relations and middle management.”

She said the tourism sector is actively engaged in diverse marketing efforts, both locally and abroad, through virtual and some face-to-face engagements with key markets.

PCR tests

Paetzold said a key factor to boost Namibia’s attractiveness as destination would be to allow fully vaccinated people to enter the country without expensive PCR tests.

“While this could positively reflect on affordability and pricing of Namibian tourism, we strongly believe that granting vaccinated people beneficial status is most likely to boost the national vaccination campaign, as incentives and benefits are believed to help convince people to get vaccinated.”

She said in view of the upcoming festive season and the potential Namibia has in attracting visitors from South Africa, it is imperative to reconsider the stringent regulations on PCR tests, as these add huge financial costs to family travel and might ruin Namibia's chances of benefiting from the South African market.

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