In response to the impact of the Covid-19 crisis, tourism minister Pohamba Shifeta yesterday launched new safety protocols and guidelines for safe travel to restore traveller confidence and stimulate demand to visit the country.
Shifeta launched the tourism safety protocols and guidelines yesterday when he officially opened the 22nd edition of the Namibia Tourism Expo.
The new safety protocols aim to allay any reasonable fears of both the guests as well as staff and management, who are operating in the tourism industry as there is an effort to make concerted awareness and action towards a safe, secure and hygienic working space.
The Namibia Tourism Board, as the lead government agency, has been working closely with the local sector to spearhead the development of tourism safety protocols and guidelines.
The protocols were reviewed by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO).
Shifeta said to reopen the tourism economy successfully and get businesses up and running, more needs to be done in a coordinated way as tourism services are highly interdependent.
Therefore, he said, the travel and tourism industry and governments should continue to reinforce their coordination mechanisms to support businesses, notably the smallest businesses, and the workers.
According to him, specific attention should be given also to the most sensitive and vulnerable destinations in the recovery phase.
“Looking ahead, I deeply feel that the measures put in place today will shape the tourism of tomorrow. Governments need to already consider the longer-term implications of the crisis, while staying ahead of rapidly evolving trends and opportunities including the digital curve, supporting the low carbon transition and promoting the structural transformation needed to build a stronger, more reliable, sustainable and resilient tourism economy. The crisis is also an opportunity to rethink tourism for the future and we need to capitalize on this opportunity to improve the competitiveness of the tourism sector,” Shifeta noted.
He said 2020 will go down in the history books as the year that shocked the world with Covid-19 ravaging economies and livelihoods across the world.
Tourism has been one of the worst affected sectors.
Namibia has seen the devastating impact of Covid-19 throughout the entire tourism system from hotels, lodges and other accommodation establishments to tour operators and other service providers such as car rental companies.
“As various governments have introduced unprecedented measures to contain the virus, introduced restrictions on travel, restrictions on business operations and people-to-people interactions have brought the tourism economy to a standstill. The emergence of the second wave of a resurgence of the virus in many countries has now heightened anxiety, uncertainty and unpredictability which is a further challenge to the rebuilding of the sector,” Shifeta indicated.
President Hage Geingob undertook to revive the international tourism industry back in June 2020 and a national tourism revival task team has been hard at work to introduce new implementation protocols aimed at reviving the sector while ensuring the health and safety of Namibians and international travellers alike.
Next month marks the start of the holiday season for many Namibians, of which Shifeta said he observed that attractive holiday packages and specials are now on offer.
He called on the tourism industry to still do more to incentivize Namibians and residents to embrace this opportunity to witness the unique and colourful vibrancy that Namibia offers, whilst celebrating the festive season to unwind from the stress caused by the lockdown and disruption to “our normal ways.”