Tourism is one of the main economic sectors of the Zambezi region and the country at large. However, Covid-19 has negatively affected the region’s economy, as there was a distinct decline in the tourism sector due to travel restrictions and regulations.
Zambezi region is home to birdwatchers, nature lovers and specialist travellers. It is a region of growing interest to scientists studying wetlands systems and its flora and fauna.
Bordering Angola, Botswana and Zambia, the region is a mosaic of woodlands, forests, swamps and rivers and home to an abundance of game and birds. The Kavango, Chobe, Kwando and Zambezi rivers are home to large herds of wildlife, hundreds of bird species and fish, especially tiger fish, all strong draws for tourists.
“The diverse effects of the pandemic also resulted in a decrease in income generated by conservancies compared to the previous year before the pandemic,” said Lawrence Sampofu, governor of Zambezi.
He was speaking at the Namibia Tourism Board engagement workshop held in Katima Mulilo last week.
According to Sampofu, the onset of Covid-19 affected the move for development in many ways. As travellers were restricted, and tourism resorts experienced a decrease in the number of travellers and this resulted in some resorts shutting down, leaving others without jobs.
Namibia recorded only 169 565 international tourists for 2020, according to the annual National Tourists Arrival Statistics report and a loss of over 1 000 jobs, with some establishments having closed completely, while others have not opened, and some are gradually opening.
Over 1.68 million foreign tourists visited Namibia in 2019.
The workshop was held to engage stakeholders to share ideas and explore opportunities to gradually restart the tourism sector in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic.