More locals on holiday at the coast
There were many more Namibians enjoying their festive season at the coast than foreigners, according to several business people and institutions to whom Erongo 24/7 spoke in the first week of 2022.
One of the main indicators of holiday business traffic are the major shopping malls – one being the Platz am Meer waterfront mall at Swakopmund.
“We had a lot of traffic this time compared to last year, and even during the year. There was hardly enough parking space and the people were queuing outside the shops. That does not happen all the time,” Simon Thomas, acting mall manager, told this publication.
He ascribed the improved traffic to people having “more freedom to move” compared to the lockdown restrictions at the end of last year, and during the middle of 2021.
“The local brought in good business. They were the majority of people walking through here, and many of them came from other towns and campsites too, just to do their shopping. The banks, pharmacies and supermarkets were the busiest,” he explained, adding that Christmas weekend and the New Year’s weekends were the busiest.
The popular rest camps in and around Swakopmund had mixed feelings regarding business – but again, locals dominated the scene.
According to Swakopmund municipal bungalow manager Zeldine Izaaks the 190 units were fully booked out for the two weeks from before Christmas to New Year. There were only two days that occupation levels dropped; this was due to the transition from the “Christmas crowd to the New Year’s crowd”
She said that 100% of those occupying the 190 bungalows were from Namibia, and mostly from Windhoek.
“It’s what we anticipated. South African and other foreigners skipped this holiday because of the high fuel prices and uncertainties over Covid measures,” she said, adding that most people left for home on Sunday and Monday.
The Mile 4 Caravan Park saw very low occupancy of its 170-lot general camping site. Park manager Elize Johannes said that only 15 of these lots were occupied.
The 10 bungalows and 28 rooms at the park were however fully occupied over the two weekends of Christmas and New Year’s – and predominantly Namibians occupied these, she said.
“Very few people from SA or elsewhere came here, while many also cancelled their booking before the time,” she explained, also saying it was due to high fuel prices and Covid.
The latest Omicron variant of Covid-19 was said to come at a very bad time – just before the holidays. This resulted in hasty travel restrictions and heightened measures, even though short-lived, which resulted in man cancellations, especially from foreigners.
Jaco Joubert of the popular Windpomp 14 rest camp north of Swakopmund said they are very happy with business.
According to him, all their 21 sites were fully booked from 10 December and look forward to good business until next week. Their restaurant also was full daily from those at the rest camp as well as daily visitors.
“All in all we had a very good season and are very grateful,” he said, adding that while two-thirds of the customers were Namibian the other third consisted mostly of regular South African visitors.
“We have some regular SA families that come to us every year and enjoy their holiday along our coast,” said Joubert.