Albertina Nakale Windhoek-The Hospitality Association of Namibia (HAN) says it is heartening and reassuring to see that some international travel experts view Namibia as a very affordable destination to travel to, which makes the country very competitive on the international tourism platform. HAN chief executive officer Gitta Paetzold said that in discussions with key tourism stakeholders last week, it was agreed that while Namibia is still a bestseller, the fact that Namibia has many repeater tourists allows it to venture into more specialized packages, which will enable visitors to delve more in detail into experiencing a place, its people, cultures and the environment. “Namibia remains a very popular destination, with a recent ranking by the international institution Bloomberg listing it as part of the 20 most popular destinations worldwide, and together we need to ensure that we explore the opportunities and challenges this ranking brings. A recent ranking by Forbes Magazine even rated Namibia as one of the most affordable travel destinations in Africa, another important accolade,” she said. She said Namibia is a special travel destination due to the fact that it offers a great variety of products and packages, catering for both the high-quality, exclusive taste as well as the traveller touring on a shoestring budget. According to her, much of Namibia’s exposure is due to the extensive coverage that the NTB Frankfurt office managed to gain in international media and with key corporates, through countless campaigns and special projects, be it promotion of travel equipment, cameras and other products. She added that it was agreed that more flexibility and creativity in packaging Namibia – both in terms of offering highlights in different seasons and amending the tour itineraries to offer diverse circular tours – would address the bottleneck in some of the hotspots of Namibia. These, she says, include Sossusvlei, Sand & Sea Unesco Heritage site, Twyfelfontein and the Etosha National Park. HAN initiated a tourism stakeholder meeting where selected people from the tour operation, car rental and accommodation sectors, and the Namibia Tourism Board (NTB), gathered. They came together to discuss ways of optimising Namibia’s tourism infrastructure, convinced that greater interaction, management of and flexibility in the reservation systems may allow for occupancies to reach a level of 80 percent in the high season, as Namibia currently does experience a high demand in its places and services. In 2017 Namibia was able to maintain the high performance and good results attained in the previous year, with overall room occupancy in 2017 reaching 58.5 percent, which is only one percentage point lower than 2016. Paetzold said a worthy observation is the fact that the occupancies during the first two quarters of 2017 were on average 2 percent higher than during the same period in 2016 – indicating a shift towards balancing out the load to the traditional low season. “This trend must be pursued to alleviate the pressure on the high season in the second half of the year,” Paetzold noted. Looking at nationalities, she explained it is worthy to note that the domestic market, which constituted just under a third of all occupancies last year, seems to have experienced a dip (some 4%) in 2017. But she said Namibia enjoyed an increase of 4 percent from the German-speaking part of Europe, with a total of over 27 percent of visitors coming from that part of the world. France, Italy, the United Kingdom, Spain, Portugal and the United States of America all showed a slight increase too, which Paetzold says is proof that the European market still holds great potential for Namibia and remains the key source market. Visiting numbers from South Africa decreased by some 1.5 percent last year to some 11.5 percent of total guests at Namibian-registered establishments. “Both the performance of the domestic and the SA markets seem reflective of the tight economic grip both countries and its people find themselves in,” she said.
New Era Reporter
2018-01-30 09:19:38 9 months ago