Despite global travel restrictions, the tourism and hospitality sectors continue to show great resilience, line minister Pohamba Shifeta has said.
“We, in the government, are conscious that people are more cautious about travelling, but they want to travel,” he remarked last week at the launch of the domestic tourism campaign.
“Hence, the requirement of a negative PCR test is now more relaxed to not older than seven days, which is very generous in comparison to global standards and norms to revive the industry.”
By the end of the third quarter of last year, 64% of businesses reported revenue losses of over 50%. The hardest-hit was the manufacturing sector, transport, tourism (including restaurants and hotels) and construction.
Shifeta believes that after the first wave of Covid-19, defying grave expectations, there is a rebound in travel.
The total tourist arrivals of 169 565 in 2020 represent a massive 89.4% decline in comparison to the 1 595 973 tourists who visited the country in 2019.
The industry also noted that on average, 7% to 10% occupancy was witnessed in quarter 3 and quarter 4 of 2020, according to Namibia Tourism Board (NTB) levy returns data.
The average occupancy for quarter 1 and quarter 2 in 2021 increased between 10%-15%. Of that, about 70%-80% of the average occupancies were driven by domestic tourists. Therefore, Shifeta said domestic tourism offers the main chance for driving recovery, albeit all subsectors like the high-end fly-in safaris and tour operations will not greatly benefit from it due to limited market size and affordability.
After months in lockdown, people in Namibia are ready to go out, but within parameters. “Domestic tourism is being sparked for several reasons. A primary trend being what I deem ‘revenge tourism’, which is caused by frustrations of the lockdown that limited travel domestically. Hence, people want to break free and enjoy,” he observed.
Another trend seen is the ‘staycation’. Due to the prevailing Covid-19 scare, some people choose to stay closer to home. This, Shifeta said, is good news.
He remains hopeful that the ‘staycation’ trend will continue and spread to more places within Namibia.
Therefore, what is required is a strong public-private partnership model to revive growth. Equally, he called for the boosting of local vibes and domestic consumption, which he believes shall facilitate homegrown passion.
“Without doubt, by giving locals and local businesses something to rally behind, we start by building a reconnection and enthusiasm that will grow into a desire to warmly welcome the world once more with open arms and open hearts,” he continued. –email@example.com