Uncertainty still plagues tourism

Efforts to revive the corona-hit tourism industry are being hampered by official confusion about regulations for visitors.

02 October 2020 | Tourism



Exactly a month since Namibia opened its borders to international tourists in an effort rebuild the devastated tourism industry, there is more confusion than ever on how processes work.

Since then several Government Gazettes have been issued, each saying a different thing on how tourists will be handled when entering the country, testing for the coronavirus and quarantine processes.

These documents have also not mentioned the Tourism Revival Initiative in accordance with which tourists were supposed to enter the country.

This confusion has been carried over to international airlines and overseas embassies, resulting in international tourists receiving the incorrect information.

No feedback

While the media have questioned these contradictions, especially as South Africa opened its borders yesterday, there has not yet been solid feedback from either the health ministry or the tourism ministry in this regard. Tourism ministry spokesman Romeo Muyunda has promised a statement to clarify the issues raised for some time now, but said on Wednesday that the Tourism Revival Working Group had met that afternoon and that a clarification could soon be expected.

Meanwhile, the health ministry has promised to share today how many tourists have been tested for the coronavirus since borders opened.

However, tourists say when they phoned the coronavirus health centres for information, there was surprise that they were not in quarantine.

Testing, quarantine

According to the protocols of the Tourism Survival Initiative, international tourists may proceed to their pre-booked destinations in Namibia upon their arrival in the country and will not be quarantined.

Tourists will then be swabbed for the coronavirus on day five wherever they find themselves in the country. They must also be available to receive the results on day seven.

But, while the protocol says tourists must be in possession of a coronavirus test not older than 72 hours, the Government Gazette published on September 23 says the test result should not older than seven days.

There is also confusion about returning Namibians who are quarantined for seven days after arriving at Hosea Kutako Airport – while tourists are not quarantined.

A revised Government Gazette published on 29 September does not address these problems.

A circular from the international relations ministry was sent out to all heads of diplomatic missions on 25 September, outlining new regulations after the expiry of the coronavirus state of emergency.

According to this circular these regulations came into effect on 24 September and will cease on 21 October.

“Namibians who are not able to obtain a negative SARS-COV PCT test result are not obliged to provide such upon arrival and will be tested during the quarantine period in Namibia,” the circular stated.

It said persons entering Namibia do not need to inform Namibian diplomatic missions 14 days in advance, as airlines are informing the health and tourism ministries.

This circular further said that all persons need to quarantine at own cost, while Namibians had the option of self-quarantine.

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