There is a growing consensus that the current customer service offered among tourism establishments is not up to scratch with many employees mistreating visitors and tourists alike. Some tourism experts suggest the global Covid-19 pandemic has exaggerated largely what is wrong with a strategy for how establishment owners contact and communicate with their customers and prospects.
Equally, some feel the pandemic is also the best opportunity in over a decade to restart, re-energise, and re-imagine customer service and field service.
The Hospitality Association of Namibia (HAN) CEO, Gitta Paetzold, emphasised customer service and friendliness remain key.
“Staff shortage and lack of relevant skills need to be addressed urgently, not only in Namibia but in tourism and hospitality across the globe.
HAN dedicated its congress theme in May 2023 to this issue.
The owner of Otjiwarongo Crocodile farm, Annè Noelle, recently expressed that it’s quite a process for employees to get used to the stress again because people were often complacent and relaxed during Covid-19.
She observed that no one had to exert themselves during Covid, therefore people find it impossible or very difficult to cope with the stress now that work resumed on a normal basis.
Contacted for comment, environment and tourism spokesperson, Romeo Muyunda, this week confirmed poor customer services in the sector has been one of the issues the ministry has taken note of with concern.
This, he said, is so because tourism is a service industry that relies heavily on good customer service.
“The ministry is doing its utmost best to address this issue and all other issues hindering the development of the industry, hence the development of Namibia’s Tourism Sector Recovery Plan 2022-2024 that talks about restoring international traveler confidence,” Muyunda said.
Experts feel the tourism industry can do more to improve the status quo in hotel establishments and airports where some employees are not so friendly to tourists and visitors alike upon arrival.
In this regard, Muyunda stressed the Industry needs to invest more in human capacity development, especially in customer care services.
“In the tourism recovery plan under the planned activities in programme 4, the ministry is proposing for the establishment of a task force team to consist of the public institutions and private sector,” he mentioned.
Equally, he said the ministry is engaging the private sector, the home affairs ministry, and the Namibia Revenue Agency (NAMRA) for collaborative educational and customer care staff development programmes and training to improve overall customer experience and service delivery at various points of contact with tourists or travelers in the country.
Further, Muyunda said the government through the Namibia Airports Company (NAC) has revamped the Hosea Kutako International Airport which the ministry believes will bring relief to travelers. This he says also demonstrates the government’s commitment to the development of the tourism and aviation industry.
The recently revamped Hosea Kutako International Airport has seen a significant increase from 10 393 to 24 055 passengers traffic in February 2022 which translates to 131.5% as compared to the same period the previous year.