Tourists still hesitant to travel

23 March 2021 | Tourism

ELLANIE SMIT



WINDHOEK

Statistics for February indicate that the country’s tourism performance is still low compared to last year, with a notable hesitance by tourists to travel due to changing travel restrictions and regulations.

According to occupancy rates for accommodation establishments compiled by the Hospitability Association of Namibia (Han), the hospitality sector managed to record an average of 20% occupancy last month.

“This is, however, only half of the performance of February last year,” said Han CEO, Gitta Paetzold. At that time, 39.1% was recorded.

She said last month, the majority of guests at establishments were Namibians (71%), while last year the number of Namibians constituted 32%.

According to her, visitors from Europe made up for some 17% in February this year, while during the same month last year, accommodation establishments enjoyed almost 48% of European visitors.

“It is clear that there still remains a notable hesitancy to travel, given the varying and ever-changing travel restrictions and regulations across the globe.”

African travel hampered

Paetzold added that even inter-African travel seems hampered by insecurity of travel regulations and the lack of harmonised safety and border protocols, with February 2021 reflecting a mere 6% of visitors to Namibia from other African countries

“Last year, over 11% of Africans enjoyed stays at Namibian accommodation establishments during the same month.”

She said despite official announcements and good intent to open land borders to neighbouring countries to allow for regional travel, some tourism operators are still suffering obstructions due to border posts being effectively closed, especially in the key tourism region of the Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area.

“There is an urgent need to raise such issues at bilateral level with authorities in neighbouring states.”

Paetzold said for the tourism revival initiative to succeed and Namibia's tourism industry to recover, a uniform approach to travel and safety protocols is urgently needed.

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