• August 9th, 2020

Job losses ‘unavoidable’ amid Covid-19 pandemic

The local tourism sector says it is expecting a significant number of job losses due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Retrenchments in the sector and job losses are simply unavoidable, the Hospitality Association of Namibia (HAN) said this week. “We have already seen many companies forced to take brave and bold decisions in an attempt to keep businesses afloat,” HAN CEO Gitta Paetzold told New Era.  “It is impossible to keep full staff complements for services and work that has currently officially been banned worldwide.” The Federation of Namibian Tourism Associations (Fenata) has predicted about 30 000 job losses are expected in the next two to three months. Fenata envisaged the total expected revenue loss within the industry is likely to be between N$15 and N$18 billion or more if the situation does not normalise. According to Paetzold, many compromises and hardships will have to be endured, adding the only consolation is that the country is not alone, as the entire world is suffering the same fate. 

“But now, it is up to us to position ourselves, our people and our country as best as we can to get out of this pandemic and into a future that holds some hope for our people.” 

Paetzold noted the country needs to ensure that it engages with all stakeholders and take an “all-of-government” approach to look at Namibia’s visa regime and engage in bi- and multilateral engagements with foreign affairs ministers and through them with airlines to pave a way for smooth and open access to a new normal in the travel industry. HAN feels without quick and meaningful support financially and through incentives in terms of marketing, visas and others during this Covid-19 pandemic, Namibia’s tourism industry is doomed. 

“Technically, tourism accommodation is dead – and although 5 May saw the end of the national lockdown and local travel permitted, it will be some time until we rebuild numbers that can contribute to the revival and survival of our industry,” she remarked. 

Paetzold also shared tourism accommodation statistics for the first quarter and the month of April. She said April started to show the real impact of the Covid-19 related travel ban, with occupancy to a record low of 2%. She said that is only possible because of the few stranded tourists that were still in the country and needed to be housed before evacuation in the first week of April. The skeleton staff at establishments housed at the lodges and places to do key maintenance also contributed to the 2% occupancy rate. Equally, she explained, while the first quarter already showed a clear decline of 6% against last year, and March was down 10%, the figure of April paints a stark picture. 

In fact, she maintained, the scenario for April relates to a 96% decline in normal business, as the travel ban on international travel and subsequent lockdown in April has effectively brought tourism to a halt. “We are also made aware that the key suppliers to tourism – be it their suppliers of hardware such as furniture, kitchen equipment, software and perishables (such as catering supplies, vegetables, fresh produce and other foodstuffs) have also suffered great losses in orders and income, as the extent and outreach of the tourism sector affects a wide range of services across Namibia, including transport and logistics too,” she said.  
 – anakale@nepc.com.na

Albertina Nakale
2020-05-14 10:12:05 | 2 months ago

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