Prepare, wait and see

25 July 2020 | Tourism

Swakopmund • [email protected]

“Prepare and wait.”

This is the conclusion of a five-page letter that the Tour and Safari Association of Namibia (TASA) sent to members earlier this week.

In the letter by the Board of Directors, TASA shared an update on the current status of the industry and what has been achieved so far together with the umbrella organisation FENATA and the Hospitality Association of Namibia (HAN) during the Corona crisis.

“At the moment, both the president and the finance minister have confirmed that talks about a tourism revitalisation plan and a test phase for the reopening of the borders will continue,” it said. However, serious quarantine challenges have been identified. “Nevertheless, we hope that a decision will be made soon, as time is of the essence,” TASA said.

In the letter, TASA cites Kenya as an example, aiming to open its borders again on 1 August. Kenya's president also announced the lifting of all intra-state travel restrictions as a result of increasing pressure on government after the country’s economy suffered massively after nearly four months of Covid-19 restrictions. Kenya’s goal is to revitalize key industries including the devastated tourism sector.

"We have also passed on the news from Kenya and hope that Namibia will follow that example so that we can maintain our competitive advantage.”

Gradual reopening

Namibia had planned to gradually reopen its borders by mid-July. However, this did not happen, which TASA attributes to the increasing number of Covid-19 cases which have been particularly prevalent in the Erongo region.

The association is now calling on members, stakeholders and the tourism sector as a whole to gather information about the situation to demonstrate the seriousness of the situation with facts. TASA hopes that government will make the right decision more quickly if it has facts and figures.

Nevertheless, TASA is working on the assumption that the first flights with tourists could arrive in August, but only “if everything goes well”.

There are a number of challenges that are beyond the industry’s control, with reference to national and international health regulations as well as bilateral agreements regarding certain travel destinations, along with the approval and willingness of the airlines to serve the route between Frankfurt and Windhoek.

“We are fully aware that it will be impossible to satisfy all the wishes, but during this egg dance we are trying to make the best of a very difficult negotiation process,” TASA said.

Generally, the association came to the conclusion that the future of Namibian tourism lies with the industry itself.

“We all have to adapt to new paths and commit ourselves to ensure the safety of our employees, guests and the entire tourism sector,” it said.

The future of the travel industry depends on industry players and their willingness to continue to engage and adhere to safety protocols and operating standards.

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