The tourism industry has not seen any new bookings since government announced protocols of the tourism revival initiative and the subsequent reopening of the Hosea Kutako International Airport for inbound tourists last week.
In fact, the industry has been grappling with booking cancellations, which has resulted in over N$115 million being withdrawn from the country.
This was said by tourism minister Pohamba Shifeta yesterday when he announced the amendments to the international tourism revival initiative protocols that were announced on 25 August 2020.
“This had a direct negative cash flow impact on businesses, which resulted in further salary cuts and or retrenchments. This has necessitated a rethink in our approach. The tourism sector is highly competitive and Namibia is competing to attract tourists with countries from all over the world. The fact that other countries in the region have opened up their borders with fewer restrictions has put Namibia at a disadvantage,” Shifeta noted.
However, he said, there are still bookings in the system, as tourists hope for more appealing protocols and arrangements to be put in place.
Shifeta yesterday announced international tourists will be able to proceed to their pre-booked destinations upon their arrival in the country and no longer need to be confined to one establishment for seven days as initially proposed.
If the visitor intends to spend less than five days at the pre-booked facility, the tourist can proceed to the next destination.
However, on day five, the tourist must be available for swabbing wherever they find themselves.
The tourist must be reachable on day seven to receive the results of the swabbing.
If the result is negative, the tourist will be released from any surveillance. If the result is positive, the tourist will be taken to the isolation facilities identified by the health ministry and treated at their own cost and according to national case management guidelines.
Shifeta said the Hosea Kutako International Airport, as the designated port of entry for the trial period of this initiative, has reported to ready itself in terms of having the necessary health and safety compliance measures in place to receive arrivals.
He stated all airlines with bilateral aviation safety agreements with Namibia were engaged and positive responses have been received, with the major airlines keen to restart their services to Namibia.
Ethiopian Airlines have made a public notification that it will resume flights to Namibia on 11 September.
Lufthansa Group has also announced plans to introduce flights to Namibia from 19 September.
“Air Namibia has also indicated its intention to resume international flights. These historical flights will be to promote the re-opening of Namibia as a tourism destination to the world. It is our intention as the ministry responsible for tourism to receive and welcome our very first tourists to Namibia after a long period of lockdown,” Shifeta maintained. - firstname.lastname@example.org