Tourism rebound can propel sector to top …figures point toward healthy growth in visitors and revenue

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Tourism rebound can propel sector to top …figures point toward healthy growth in visitors and revenue

Tourism could potentially emerge as a major contributor to Namibia’s Gross Domestic Product in 2024, as it holds the potential to become one of the strongest performing sectors of the Namibian economy this year. This is as the Hospitality Association of Namibia (HAN) pointed out an unusual increase of visitors in January, which is traditionally a low tourism season in the country. 

Also, in January this year, the coastal areas of the country emerged as the most sought-after holiday destination in the country, boasting an occupancy rate of 55.39% above pre-Covid levels. This was the highest among all regions. 

The improved activity was attributed to individuals preferring to celebrate New Year in coastal areas. 

Additionally, a local stock brokerage stated this trend aligns with the pattern of individuals opting to vacation after the festive season, likely due to reduced crowding during this period and a corresponding drop in holiday accommodation rates. 

“Yes, for sure there is very much an increase after Covid-19 almost put us on our knees. Most of our clients currently originate from countries such as Germany, France, Britain as well as Japan,” said Raymond //Inichab, owner of Swakopmund-based Hata #Angu cultural tours. Speaking to Inside Business at the coast last week, //Inichab said the resurgence of regional and foreign visitors is a sigh of relief for many local tourism operators. 

In a recent statement, HAN chief executive officer, Gitta Paetzold noted that “everything thus points towards a continuation of healthy growth, both in terms of numbers and revenue for Namibia’s tourism sector”.

In HAN’s tourism occupancy reports for December, fourth quarter, as well as the annual report for 2023, the association made interesting observations when comparing the latest figures with the last “normal” pre-pandemic year in 2019. 

“The international trends for 2024 include even more demand for the high-end, high-quality tourism and it is encouraging to see the development of many such new properties offering this service in Namibia.  Furthermore, global operators predict that camping will go premium, with an increasing demand for camping travel across the globe, a market also well served by Namibia.  Furthermore, sustainable and family travel are in demand, and journeys that allow memories to be made, and were better, than in rugged, soulful, inspiring and natural Namibia,” HAN stated. 

HAN added that going forward, 2024 holds promises of further growth with Namibia still high in demand for leisure travellers.

Commenting on the observed increase in visitors during this traditionally slower January period, stock brokerage Simonis Storm pointed out the revival is a positive indicator that the country’s tourism industry is gradually overcoming its seasonal fluctuations. 

“Although business and conference tourism still lag behind 2019 levels, there is potential for significant growth, especially as certain hospitality establishments are poised to accommodate guests attending events such as The Africa Hospitality Investment Forum (AHIF) and the AviaDev Africa event,” SS stated in analysis of the hospitality statistics.  

SS pointed out that overall number of passengers arriving and departing on international, regional, and domestic flights in 2023 reached its highest point since 2019. 

The total number of passengers arriving was 514 533, while the total number of departures was 499 398. The majority of this passenger traffic was recorded at Hosea Kutako International Airport (HKIA), with Walvis Bay Airport and Eros Airport following in terms of activity.  

“Initial indicators suggest that the local tourism and hospitality industry is continuing its recovery. In January 2024, occupancy rates at hospitality establishments nationwide remained higher than those before the pandemic, though they were slightly below the levels seen in January 2023. Particularly, the room occupancy rates at nation-wide establishments were at 36.8% in January 2024, compared to 39 % in December 2023 and 37.1% in January 2023,” SS stated. 

SS added that across the country, more than 92% of establishments were occupied for leisure purposes in January, which is a slight decrease from 96% in December 2023. 

Business-related occupancy rose to 7.7% (from 3.2% in December 2023), with central areas being the preferred destination. Conference-related occupancy, however, dropped to 0.02% from 0.13% in December 2023, with central areas remaining the main destination. 

Meanwhile, a significant portion of visitors came from German-speaking countries, as well as France and Italy. Specifically, visitors from Germany, Switzerland, and Austria made up 35.2%, an increase from 27.3% in December 2023 and 31.6% in January 2023. 

Other visitors included South Africans, Americans, Canadians, French guests from Benelux countries. 

Furthermore, SS stated that from a global perspective, international tourism almost fully bounced back from the unprecedented impact of Covid-19 with many destinations either meeting or surpassing pre-pandemic arrival and revenue figures according to the latest United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). 

“By the end of 2024, it is projected that international tourism will rebound to nearly 90% of its pre-pandemic levels,” SS stated.