The collapse of Namibia’s tourism industry as a result of Covid-19 and related lockdowns has forced the country’s foremost tourism entity, Namibia Wildlife Resorts (NWR), to embark on a voluntary retrenchment exercise. The NWR’s executive committee recently approved the exercise after a 25% salary reduction for board and senior management failed to place the organisation in a better financial position.
NWR provided its staff with an opportunity to voluntarily separate from the organisation from 22 September 2020 up until 22 October 2020. Employees were faced with a difficult choice considering that the tourism industry is fighting to prevent its collapse and the collective loss of more than 100 000 jobs.
NWR is offering employees who accept the voluntary retrenchment, two week’s salary for every year of uninterrupted service as a severance pay-out, any leave balances as at 30 September 2020, subject to a maximum of 60 days will be paid-out, any accrued leave days above 60 days will be paid at 50% or half of the excess days.
Any employee entitled to an annual birthday bonus, a proportion equal to the months since the last bonus will also be paid out. The company is also offering a one month’s salary in lieu of notice, total pension fund credit, transport to the place of normal residence (within the borders of Namibia) for them and their belongings.
“Based on worldwide experiences, we are aware that it would be difficult for us to have the same staff profile pre-Covid. Most companies around the world have begun following the same trend to find ways of reducing their wage bill and other operational costs,” said Matthias Ngwangwama, NWR managing director.
One of Namibia’s biggest private tourism companies, Gondwana Collection, recently raised awareness of the industry’s plight by warning that the industry is on the verge of collapse.
In a statement, Gondwana pleaded with government to reopen borders and to bring back tourists.
Gondwana further emphasised that the local tourism sector had been the fastest growing industry in the country in recent years and has been able to contribute more than 10% to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and about 15% to national employment.