Covid-19 worries travel industry
Coronavirus causes decline in tourism
11 March 2020 | Tourism
Just a month ago, the Hospitality Association of Namibia (HAN) announced an increase in visitor numbers to Namibia.
A few short weeks later, the scenario is much different.
“Some of my customers have cancelled their trips to Namibia for the year and I also noticed a significant drop in demand,” one Walvis Bay-based tour operator who chose to remain anonymous told this newspaper.
However, he doesn’t ascribe this trend to Covid-19.
“My customers are more concerned about being quarantined,” he said.
He feels travellers are worried that they will not be able to leave Namibia after their arrival or that they will not be able to return to their own country due to the possibility of being quarantined.
“Because of this, some of my clients prefer to stay at home.”
Among his cancellations was also a tour group, whose vacation he estimated at N$250 000.
“That’s quite a bite from a small business like mine,” he said.
“We have sent several guidelines to the tourism industry on how to deal with this trend,” said HAN managing director Gitta Paetzold.
She suggested that clients should perhaps postpone their trip for up to 15 months, while cancellation fees should be kept to a minimum.
“In unprecedented times like this, Namibian operators can no longer rely on standard operating procedures, including cancellation policies,” Paetzold said, adding that “we would like to see tourists postpone their trip to Namibia instead of cancelling completely”.
According to her, Namibia remains a top travel destination. The fact that there has not yet been a confirmed case of Covid-19 counts in our favour, so too the low population density, general safety and our warm summer months.
“In actual fact, the tourism industry could experience an upswing at the current exchange rate (18.5 euros = N$1),” she said.
She added that they have noticed that many tourists are afraid of flying because of the virus and therefore cancel their trip. “This may also have to do with the fact that they may be in transit at an international airport,” Paetzold said.
“The future in the tourism industry is uncertain. We just don’t know what the consequences of this illness could be.”