Uncertainty over tourism revival

Fenata says uncertainty on several issues needs to be clarified to enable the tourism sector to take practical steps to resume international travel.

04 September 2020 | Tourism

ELLANIE SMIT

WINDHOEK



The tourism industry has questioned the practical implementation of reopening of the Namibian airspace for international tourism.

The Federation of Namibian Tourism Associations (Fenata) wrote a letter to the Tourism Revival Task Team highlighting several reservations regarding opening Hosea Kutako international Airport and seeking clarity on how the process will work.

“Although we see this as a first and positive attempt towards the resumption of some normality in the tourism sector, it is the practical limitations that come along with it that raise some very real continuing concerns,” the organisation wrote.

Fenata said the uncertainty on several issues needed to be clarified to enable the tourism stakeholders to take practical steps to resume international travel.



Travel restrictions

It said the uncertainty was compounded by renewed lockdown restrictions of some parts of the Khomas Region, in which Hosea Kutako Airport, the indicated port of arrival, is located.

“As it stands now, the initiative is seen as a gesture only, but would need concerted efforts, clarity and a clear statement from Namibian leaders and all of government to confirm that our country is willing and ready to receive international tourists.”

Among the 15 points raised was a question about a reference to 10 km distance from the nearest health clinic.

“Does that mean that only establishments in a 10 km radius of a state health clinic would qualify for hosting tourists?” the industry wanted to know. Fenata pointed out that this would then exclude most rural establishments, including the camps in national parks.

Another pertinent question was whether tourists require a travel permit issued at the airport upon arrival to travel outside the Khomas Region.



Uncertainty

They also pointed out that many tourists still have tours booked for October and the following months, which are fixed itineraries that cannot afford to be amended as any amendment would be a valid reason for visitors to cancel their trips.

“Therefore, going forward, we should aim to remove the seven days' seclusion and rather make sure that all service providers comply with the coronavirus protocols to keep Namibians and tourists equally safe while travelling.”

Fenata said the industry had obtained clear indications that an open airport alone will not attract travellers to Namibia.

“Current control measures and the fear of renewed restrictions being imposed on regions or the country, curfews and the limitations to the normal tourism services on offer have already led to a number of additional cancellations of provisional bookings for September and October.

“Unfortunately, indications are that with this level of uncertainty, the international travel fraternity may even consider avoiding any travel plans to our shores for 2021.”

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