SWAKOPMUND – Over 10 000 passengers are expected to disembark at the coast as Namport and the tourism industry gear up for the passenger liner season.
The arrival of these floating palaces is set to provide the local tourism and hospitality industry with a much-needed economic boost.
Namport’s executive for commercial cervices Elias Mwenyo yesterday stated that the first passenger liner, the Vasco da Gama-Nicko Cruises passenger ship, arrived on Sunday with approximately 395 people on board.
The 219-metre-long vessel, sailing under the Swiss flag, docked at the port of Walvis Bay, and it is expected to set sail towards the Port of Lüderitz as its next port of call.
Mwenyo said at least 10 other passenger liners are expected to dock either at the Lüderitz port or Walvis Bay from 28 November until 30 December.
Vessels such as the Costa Deliziosa, Zuiderdam, Azamara Pursuit, Aidaaura, Seven Seas Voyager, Aidaaura and Silver Spirit will visit the coast, while some vessels are expected to return at least twice to Walvis Bay.
“Traditionally, the passenger liner season commences in November, and continues until April of the following year. This sector of the industry brings a surplus of benefits to the host country, Namibia, including an influx of international tourists who are eager to explore the natural beauty that the country has to offer,” he noted.
“Furthermore, it injects foreign currency into our local economy, paving the way for job-creation opportunities for locals in sectors such as tour guides, transportation services, and the arts and crafts industry,” Mwenyo said.
Meanwhile, the coastal tourism sector earlier this year urged the ministry of safety and security to deploy more officials or to explore the possibility of exempting tourists arriving on cruise ships from face-to-face or physical inspections. Local tourism operators said they are losing out on lucrative revenue due to delays in immigration services offered to tourists on board cruise liners.
Instead, they were proposing that the ministry should rely on passenger manifests when dealing with passenger liners.
A total of 42 passenger liners, each carrying an average of 2 000 tourists, docked last year during the same period.
Immigration officials then cleared 26 353 guests upon arrival, and over 39 000 upon departure from passenger liners docking and departing from Lüderitz and Walvis Bay.
Players in the sector feel the shortage of manpower and the absence of visa-on-arrival services at the ports not only lead to unnecessary delays but also impede the industry from fully capitalising on the revenue potential offered by passenger liner services.