Namibia is finally ready to reopen its international borders to tourists, with safety measures in place to welcome visitors as from Tuesday next week.
The reopening is part of the tourism revival initiative, which was initially scheduled for July this year. Tourism minister Pohamba Shifeta on Tuesday announced the new implementation protocols guiding the international tourism revival initiative that was announced by President Hage Geingob in June.
In terms of entry requirements, Shifeta announced entry to the country will only be allowed via Hosea Kutako International Airport. All travellers must present a negative PCR test result, not older than 72 hours before boarding the plane and to be allowed to enter Namibia.
Tourists will be subjected to mandatory seven-day stay at their first facility of booking, which must be duly registered by the Namibia Tourism Board and certified by the health ministry.
Shifeta said the implementation protocols aim to get the critical tourism and hospitality sector back up and running by putting in place the necessary measures and good practices to regulate the sector in the context of Covid-19.
“This is a fine balancing act and these implementation protocols are designed to help us ensure that international tourists are still able to visit Namibia without compromising the public health of neither Namibians nor their own health,” he noted.
The protocols have been subjected to a comprehensive consultative process and have now been signed off by the ministries of tourism, health, home affairs, immigration and safety and security. According to Shifeta, the initiative, which targets leisure travellers, would be reviewed bi-weekly and amended if necessary.
He explained all visitors will be required to adhere to the prevailing safety and health regulations in terms of the Covid-19 state of emergency.
The implementation protocols contain detailed information and guidance to both visitors and accommodation establishments and the tourism industry at large.
The protocols provide information on entry requirements, requirements for local tourism industry service providers, airlines, testing or screening on arrival, transfer from airport to tourists’ accommodation, seclusion contact tracing and case management as well as visa requirements.
The tourists are also expected to proceed directly to their first accommodation from the airport and no overnight or stopovers are permitted. All tourism establishments must observe the general health and safety protocols as stipulated by the health ministry.
He said detailed Covid-19 protocols for all operations in the tourism sector have been put in place by the NTB. “All tourism and hospitality establishments, facilities and enterprises must prior to receiving guests obtain a health certification licence or permit in compliance with the provision of the protocols for the international tourism revival initiative,” he said. He alluded that the tourism sector has been one of the hardest hit by the Covid-19 pandemic due to the closure of borders and the complete absence of visitors from abroad over the past months. The Covid-19 pandemic has negatively impacted the tourism sector, with direct and indirect beneficiaries of the industry such as hotels, communal conservancies, travel agents, airlines, vehicle rental companies, tour operators, hunting operators as well as restaurants and entertainment facilities targeting tourists hard hit by the virulent pandemic. “Although diverse efforts have been made to stimulate domestic tourism during the Covid-19 state of emergency period, the survival and regrowth of the tourism sector depend mainly on our ability to attract international tourists,” Shifeta remarked.