With only a little over 60 000 international tourist arrivals from September 2020 to March 2021, government has urged the industry to look into the local market to resuscitate the industry.
Tourism minister Pohamba Shifeta believes the domestic market, if put at the centre of the recovery of tourism, will help to mitigate the immediate impact of job losses, business closures and forms a foundation for the industry to become more resilient.
“By travelling within the country and spending money at local restaurants and hospitality establishments, it will help save the industry. Government will continue to support the tourism sector to boost the economy and save jobs and livelihoods,” he noted.
Shifeta said although these figures are too low to sustain the sector, they are commendable and was worth the efforts of government to open up the Hosea Kutako International Airport and invite tourists back to Namibia as a safe destination during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Shifeta made the remarks yesterday when he launched the Annual National Tourists Arrival Statistics report for the year ended December 2020; the Tourism Revival Statistics Report for the period September 2020 to March 2021, and the Covid-19 Socio-Economic Impact Assessment on Tourism in Namibia for 2020.
These reports are of utmost importance for understanding what exactly transpired in the 2020 calendar year, given the socio-economic impact of Covid-19 on Namibia.
Shifeta called upon all in the tourism sector to work together and do more, now that travel restrictions are lifted, to promote, market and offer reasonable accommodation prices and attractive products to entice both Namibians and leisure travellers from all over the world to come to Namibia.
“This pandemic presents us with an opportunity to reassess how we harness the power of cooperation and partnerships to develop a sustainable, inclusive and resilient tourism sector. Let us keep in mind that ‘tourism is a lifeline’, therefore, let us work together to see its growth,” he encouraged.
He remarked that Namibia is a safe tourist and business destination with unparalleled scenery, wildlife, cultural diversity and hospitable people.
He said without accurate and reliable statistics, it is nearly impossible to make good judgment to achieve long-term tourism and national developmental goals as set out in Vision 2030 and in Harambee Prosperity Plan (HPP II).
“Hence, an increase in the tourist arrivals indicates increasing contribution to the GDP. Equally, a decline indicates the opposite,
or declining contribution to GDP. The Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism remains committed to its mandate to compile and publish annual tourist arrival statistics,” he maintained.
The Annual National Tourists Arrival Statistics report for the year ended December 2020 recorded 192 026 foreign arrivals, of which 169 565 were recorded as tourists.
The total tourist arrivals of 169 565 represent a massive 89.4% decline in comparison to the 1 595 973 tourists arrival of the previous year.
About 81.0% of these tourists were recorded in the first quarter of the year (January to March 2020).
The statistics further showed that South Africa overtook Angola to become the main African source market, providing 28.6% of total tourists to Namibia in 2020. Germany retained their position as the key overseas tourist market with 11.6% of total tourist arrivals.
“It is worth noting that although these countries are top source markets, the arrival figures dropped significantly during the period under reporting,” Shifeta said.
The Tourism Revival Initiative Statistics Report for the period September 2020 to March 2021 assessed foreign tourist arrivals for the seven months’ period of
the TRI September 2020 and March 2021 and showcase the overall impact and contribution of the International Tourist Revival Initiative spearheaded by the National Tourism Revival Task Force.
The ministry, in collaboration with UNDP, carried out a tourism impact assessment exercise to determine the impact of Covid-19 on the tourism sector.
The preliminary findings of the survey give the ministry and the tourism sector clues in terms of what necessary steps should be taken to resuscitate the industry from further collapse.
This report will further assist policymakers in the ministry and government at large to better understand the macroeconomic effects of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and to provide strategic guidance for rebuilding and reviving the tourism sector.