The Hospitality Association of Namibia (HAN) says it expects tourist arrivals in the country by mid-September following the reopening of the Hosea Kutako International Airport this week.
“The Lufthansa group is scheduled to fly in on 19 September, if all goes well, while Qatar also expressed interest to resume flights as soon as possible. We are eager to learn from our national carrier, Air Namibia, as to its plans,” said HAN CEO Gitta Paetzold.
Ethiopian airlines this week announced it would resume its first commercial and cargo flights to Windhoek on 11 September. President Hage Geingob last week announced the commencement of the targeted international tourism revival initiative by reopening the main international airport on Monday.
Initially, the government intended to conduct a targeted international tourism revival initiative from 15 July 2020, in collaboration with the industry. However, this could not be realised as both parties had to engage further.
Tourism ministry spokesperson Romeo Muyunda explained the tourists arriving via Hosea Kutako have special arrangements.
“They will be transported to their first destination as per the protocols. This can be done through giving them travel permits,” Muyunda noted. The airport has been closed for international travel for over five months since government imposed a travel ban in March to curb the spread of Covid-19.
“And yes, while there is reason for hope, as this is a very important first step forward towards some form of normalisation of the leisure travel industry, the industry is currently grappling with the many uncertainties, restrictions and general anxiety that stand in the way of welcoming large numbers of tourists to beautiful Namibia,” Paetzold said.
She mentioned another logistical challenge is the assessment and certification of accommodation establishments permitted to host incoming tourists for the first seven days of their stay. Usually, she said, accommodation reservations take place months in advance, with travellers keen to secure their reservations and travel plans months before they fly to their next destination.
“Therefore, this revival plan may serve ad hoc visitors, and maybe the hunting sector for now, - the latter used to staying at one hunting farm for a week or more, but whether such arrangements, including flights, reservations at hunting outfitters, acquisition of permits can all be secured within a week or two, is at this stage hard to imagine.
But, it is a beginning, and a gesture of goodwill, - and hope that we can look forward and plan ahead, hopefully with less and no restrictions in future, so that holidays tours reserved and still on hold for October and the rest of the year, - can be allowed to take place as per the travel plans in place.” – email@example.com
Restart… The Hosea Kutako International Airport reopened this week for inbound tourists.
Photo: Emmency Nuukala