Eveline de Klerk
WALVIS BAY – The coastal towns of Walvis Bay and Lüderitz are expecting a boost to their economies, as around 20 000 tourists will visit the coastline.
During the festive season, 22 cruise liners are expected to dock at these ports. Some of the vessels already started arriving on the 10 November but are expected to make a return within the next two weeks, with others coming back as early as January 2023.
Five passenger liners already docked in November. Aidaaura made four port calls and is expected to dock next week again. Fifteen is expected to dock between 3 and 31 December at Walvis Bay. Passenger vessels carrying tourists contribute immensely to the tourism industry of Namibia, as we have one of the most beautiful countries in the world – a tourist gem.
The arrival of passenger liners on this scale signals a positive step in the recovery of tourism at the coast, following the devastating effects Covid-19 had on the industry for the past two years.
The Erongo region is one of the most sought-after tourist destinations in the world; however, the sector has been facing challenging times since the outbreak of Covid-19, resulting in hundreds of job losses while several business and tourism establishments closed down.
However, the return of the cruise liners is seen as a sign that tourism is slowly but surely picking up at the coast. Namport commercial services executive Elia Mwenyo also said the arrival of the cruise ships not only brings business to the coast but also signals the return of tourism on a larger scale for the coast.
“As a key player in Namibia’s economy, Namport is committed to ensuring that all visitors who disembark from passenger liners do so in a safe and welcoming manner, as Namport appreciates the value that these visitors add to the tourism industry and in turn inject income to the country’s economy at large,” he said.
He also said Namport has increased security and transport resources to ensure a smooth flow of movement for tourists and service providers who will be moving in and out of the port.
According to him, Walvis Bay and Lüderitz now have an opportunity to showcase the beauty of our natural assets and hospitality to diverse tourists at once.
“All service providers must look at ways how to retain these tourists so that our towns become a must during their next visits,” he said. Each ship carries on average about 900 passengers and staff.
It is a welcomed economic injection to the local tour operators as well as restaurants and other local amenities, such as craft shops, museums, etc. Swakopmund local councillor and tourism entrepreneur Heinrich Hafeni yesterday said this is indeed a welcoming boost for the tourism industry as the spinoff of everyone within the value chain of the sector.
“Even taxi drivers and sculptors will benefit from this. We, as Namibians, should now look at how we can maximise all the spinoffs from the tourism sector so that everyone can benefit. He added the revival of the tourism sector is long overdue and can continue to grow.
“We are hopeful that the tourism sector will stabilise so that we once again become the flagship of both international and domestic tourism,” Hafeni said.