Albertina Nakale Windhoek-Travellers, who have not yet secured accommodation for the festive season at the coast, could end up without a place to lodge, as almost all hotels, bungalows and bed-and-breakfast establishments at the coast are already fully booked. The soaring heat in the hinterland and towns in the interior will in all probability force thousands of holidaymakers to retreat to the coast, where temperatures are generally cooler. Minister of Environment and Tourism, Pohamba Shifeta, on Thursday revealed that Namibia has a shortage of beds in the hospitality industry, especially during the festive season. “If you go to the coast, you will probably not get a bed if you haven’t done your booking earlier. You find people have turned their houses into B&Bs [bed and breakfasts],” Shifeta said when he launched the 2016 Tourist Statistics Report. The report revealed that Namibia recorded over 1.57 million international tourist arrivals in 2016, an increase of 3.6 percent from 2015. The countries with the largest number of tourists who visited Namibia in 2016 were Angola, South Africa, Zambia, Germany, the United Kingdom, the United States and France. Equally, Shifeta said a shortage of beds in the tourism industry is also being experienced in Windhoek. “We can’t have big events. We don’t have conference venues to host big events. We also can’t accommodate people in the city. We go as far as accommodating them in Rehoboth or elsewhere. Currently, it’s not matching,” he noted. He also questioned the quality of hospitality training centres, saying customer service in Namibia is very poor. He said it does not make any sense that hospitality institutions are just training but are not addressing the needs on the ground. He stressed that there are many students who are today roaming the streets due to poor training. “They don’t understand the concept of customer service. They don’t understand that if they don’t give proper service, then they will be redundant. Customer service is not just a Namibian culture. You come in the shop and a person will look at you while on the phone with something not related to work. They are just chatting with friends. “They look at a customer as if someone is lost. Sometimes their tone will send a person away [instead] of asking, ‘can I help you?” Shifeta remarked. He said if students come out of these hospitality training facilities without conceptualising customer service, then customers will never be happy. The minister cautioned that recruiting people who are not friendly will affect the business and customers will run away. Therefore, he noted that the ministry established an advisory council composed of many stakeholders including training hospitality institutions that will look into the matter and address poor customer service in Namibia. Equally, he also cautioned those law enforcement officials at the border posts across Namibia to avoid mistreating visitors. “The first impression lasts. If that person is harassed or got disappointed at the border post, then that is the impression that person will have about Namibia. He will leave with that. Therefore, training should not only look at prospective employees but also those already employed. Some of them say they are stressed or overworked. But sometimes we must overlook some of these things,” he noted.
New Era Reporter
2017-12-18 08:46:45 10 months ago