WINDHOEK, (The Southern African Times) – Namibia recorded an increase of 37.81 percent of tourists arrivals in the country from January to December 2021, when compared to 2020 figures, an official said Tuesday.
“Country arrivals were 354,508 in 2021 as compared to 192,026 in 2020. This is an important achievement for the sector,” Namibia’s Minister of Environment and Tourism Pohamba Shifeta said in a statement on Tuesday.
Namibia’s Ministry of Environment and Tourism spokesperson, Romeo Muyunda told SAT that so much has been lost in terms of income, revenue and employment in the tourism industry due to the ripple effects of COVID-19. The sector will need to move slowly towards recovery and this will require them to be innovative in their product offering and put in measures to prepare them for similar occurrences.
According to Muyunda, Namibia’s government interventions like relaxing some restrictions to allow for tourists to visit the country and initiatives also aimed at developing the confidence of tourists to visit Namibian as a safe destination.
Lin Bo, a manager of China Travel Agency, who has been deeply involved in Namibia’s tourism market for 12 years, told SAT that Namibia’s tourism industry developed rapidly in the first few years before the epidemic.
Based on her long-term optimism about the tourism market in Namibia, her company has increased investment since 2015, building a boutique hotel in Walvis Bay, a popular tourist attraction, and a wildlife park in Sossusvlei. But the sudden outbreak of the pandemic in 2020 has hit the entire tourism industry hard, and like other peers, they are also experiencing considerable financial difficulties.
But they have always had confidence in the future, and persisted until now through salary reductions and living allowances without laying off staff. During the nearly two years of the epidemic, all employees have continued to further their studies through online training and online learning to improve their business capabilities and more diversified skills, and fully prepare for the recovery of the market after the epidemic.
“The epidemic will pass, and the recovery of tourism will eventually come,” said Lin.
“Namibia’s rich natural and cultural resources have attracted tourists from all over the world. However, it can also be clearly felt that the proportion of Chinese tourists is increasing year by year. If there are more convenient visa policies, such as visa-free, visa-on-arrival and resource guarantee for tourist flights, Chinese tourists will show an explosive growth after the epidemic is over,” she said.
Gitta Paetzold, CEO of the Hospitality Association of Namibia, told reported that 2021 has been a very tough year, the third wave outbreak in Namibia in mid-2021, and then the global travel ban on southern Africa in late 2021 due to the Omicron variant.
“This puts the entire travel industry in a difficult situation. But I believe there will be a slow and steady recovery and it is hoped that by mid-2022, tourism flow from international markets will pick up again,” said Paetzold.
Tourism in Namibia is one of the pillar industries and is the key to improving people’s living standards, especially in remote areas, where it solves a lot of employment and livelihood problems.