Tourists trickle back to Namibia

Government’s tourism task force continues to engage strategic stakeholders for relevant recovery interventions.

12 May 2021 | Business

Tourism is a socio-economic pillar for Namibia and therefore collective efforts are necessary for us to find solutions and map the way forward to safeguard the future of tourism amid and post Covid-19. - Heather Sibungo, Deputy minister: Environment and tourism

Namibia has managed to attract 23 997 tourists since the launch of the country's International Tourism Revival Initiative about eight months ago, according to the deputy minister of environment and tourism, Heather Sibungo.

The initiative was launched in the beginning of September last year to help in the country's tourism recovery, which was hard hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Sibungo’s figures translates to an average of about 3 000 per month. The Bank of Namibia (BoN) in its Annual Report 2020 said an average of 1.6 million tourists per year visited the country prior to the pandemic. That’s an average of 133 333 tourists a month.

Sibungo said Namibia recorded a decline of about 87% in international tourist arrivals in 2020 and a loss of over 1 000 jobs, with some establishments having closed completely, while others have not opened and some are gradually opening.

The BoN estimated that about 30% of employment opportunities in the formal tourism sector were sacrificed in 2020. This means 7 830 people lost their jobs.

“The loss of jobs in the sector is likely to be much worse should informal job losses data be available,” the central bank said in its annual report, adding: “The full impact will depend on how long the Covid-19 pandemic persists.”

IMPROVED CAPACITY

Sibungo this week said: “Tourism is a socio-economic pillar for Namibia and therefore collective efforts are necessary for us to find solutions and map the way forward to safeguard the future of tourism amid and post Covid-19.”

According to Sibungo, Namibia has since improved the capacity in pertinent areas such as laboratory testing of Covid-19 for purposes of traveling. Rapid testing is now available and the roll-out of vaccination is now throughout the country.

"The tourism task force continues to engage strategic stakeholders for relevant interventions as and when required," she said. – Own report and Nampa/Xinhua

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