The decision by the government to move the entire country back to stage 3 of the Covid-19 state of emergency is a huge blow for the tourism revival initiative whose reopening modalities were due to be completed this week.
The details of the modalities for the targeted international tourism revival initiative were to be finalised this week by a national task team before tourists would start arriving in Namibia.
President Hage Geingob on Wednesday said the migration to stage 3 would have a bearing on the tourism revival initiative.
The Hospitality Association of Namibia (HAN) CEO Gitta Paetzold said reverting to stage 3 was a huge knock for tourism, both for the domestic drive, as many lodges had bookings for the next two weeks, mainly from Windhoekers keen to spend some time outdoors and make use of the school break.
“But it also affects Namibia’s image as safe destination abroad and puts a halt to the tourism trial phase in August,” she reacted.
Air Namibia yesterday announced the temporary suspension of all domestic flights for a period of 18 days until 29 August. Domestic flight operations will resume on 30 August.
The airline said the latest development is in alignment with Namibia’s travel restrictions as stipulated in stage 3 regulations, aimed at curbing the further spread of Covid-19. Air Namibia has introduced flexible rebooking options for travellers who need to change their travel dates. For domestic flights, all tickets purchased on or before 12 August 2020 will be offered one free change to a new travel date until 31 October 2020.
Namibia Tourism Board (NTB) CEO Digu //Naobeb also feels the new strict measures would be a setback for the industry. He said they are aware that Namibians have made plans to travel the last week of August as this was also initially scheduled to be a school holiday period.
“This will still allow room for the appointed task force to finalise the details with greater expediency. But what remains critical is that the restart of tourism can be undertaken responsibly and in a way that safeguards public health while also supporting businesses and livelihoods. As Namibia continues to ease restrictions on travel, international cooperation is of paramount importance. This way, global tourism can gain people’s trust and confidence, which is an essential foundation, as we work together to adapt to the new reality that we are facing,” //Naobeb maintained.
Tourism ministry deputy executive director Seimy Shidute explained the modalities are that international tourists arriving in Namibia will be required to present a 72-hour negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test result. Tourists will not be subjected to mandatory quarantine. They will, however, be required to remain or self-isolate at their first initial destination in the country for seven days.