Although the Bank of Namibia’s quarterly bulletin hints at a recovery in the tourism sector due to increased tourist arrivals, the Namibia Tourism Board identified a serious need for more air capacity to increase arrivals as well as a shortage of rental cars.
The tourism sector is one of the worst affected by Covid-19.
BoN’s latest report shows the recovery in the tourism sector was due to increased tourist arrivals as more nations lifted Covid-19-related travel restrictions.
In July 2022, over two years after the first measures were announced to curb the coronavirus, the Namibian government removed all restrictions imposed on account of Covid-19 but insists on citizens voluntarily comply with public health and social measures, and ensure that good hand hygiene becomes part of the new normal.
According to BoN, the total number of passengers arriving from other countries at Namibian airports rose to 78 642 during the second quarter of 2022 from 33 306 passengers registered during the same quarter of 2021.
However, NTB CEO Digu
//Naobeb observed the tourism industry is on an upward trajectory but figures are still below pre-Covid figures of over 1.5 million tourist arrivals in 2019.
This, he points out, is primarily affected by the surge in airfares due to high fuel costs driven by the exogenous factor of ongoing global geopolitics and direct flight limitations.
This is so, especially on air flights out of Johannesburg, as this route is currently only serviced by South African airline, Airlink.
“This, in itself, is a limitation for travellers who want to connect via the Johannesburg hub. Thus, more air capacity is needed to grow numbers,” //Naobeb stressed.
International tourism continues to recover, with arrivals reaching 57% of pre-pandemic levels in the first seven months of 2022, according to the latest statistics of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO).
International tourist arrivals almost tripled from January to July 2022, up 172%, compared to the same period of 2021, recovering almost 60% of pre-pandemic levels.
The steady recovery reflects strong pent-up demand for international travel as well as the easing or lifting of travel restrictions to date.
A total of 86 countries do not impose Covid-19 related restrictions as of 19 September 2022.
Nonetheless, //Naobeb is confident Namibia remains a safe and secure destination underpinned by wide open spaces.
Another factor affecting tourism is the limitation of rental vehicles.
As tourists return in numbers to explore Namibia’s unique beauty, the tourism sector is facing a shortage of vehicles for rent.
Namibia has been lauded for well-graded and easy-to-navigate road infrastructure and self-drive safaris have steadily increased in popularity.
//Naobeb feels such a limitation causes some travellers to delay plans when more vehicles will be replenished by vehicle rental companies.
“Surely, there is more interest and willingness to travel to Namibia. NTB is prioritising media exposure of the destination and connecting Namibia trade with the international travel trade,” he said.
Thus, NTB shall participate in a couple of trade fairs next year, namely the WTM Africa in Cape Town, Indaba in Durban, ITB in Berlin and Fitur in Spain.
Another marketing initiative includes Namibia Academy to be hosted in December coinciding with the annual symposium.
NTB has also revamped the ITS website and launched foreign missions’ toolkits for Namibian missions abroad to promote Namibia, where it has no presence.
“All these are done amidst a funding shortage. As for domestic marketing, we are running an awareness campaign for festive session holiday planning with NBC on TV, radios and social platforms. I implore the private sector to offer special deals and packages to attract domestic travellers over the upcoming festive season,” //Naobeb stressed.