Tourism sector seeks clarity

22 July 2020 | Tourism

Swakopmund • [email protected]

“The delay in setting a date for reopening the country’s borders to tourism, as well as clarity surrounding government promises of support for a gradual and carefully considered recovery of the sector, is threatening to stifle all hope in our industry.”

With this statement, the tourism association FENATA expressed the helplessness many service provides in the industry are experiencing.

“In the past few days we have again had to accept a number of cancellations of tours for August and September. At the same time, some partners including airlines, have suspended their connections until October,” FENATA said.

The Hospitality Association of Namibian (HAN) again commented on the catastrophic situation with which the industry is confronted. “Although there has been a lot of talk about the impact of a global travel ban and other measures related to the tourism sector, nothing speaks more clearly than facts,” HAN said.

The association said that bed occupancy has fallen to less than 10%, and to even less than 5% in the second quarter of 2020. If bed occupancies rose to over 50%, the sector could reach a profit zone.

“But this can never be carried by local and regional travel, not even in good times,” HAN said. “As much as domestic tourism is a key element of our industry and campaigns like ‘Tourism starts at home’ and ‘Local is Lekker’ stimulate the sector, we need vacationers and the reopening of our borders.”

President Hage Geingob announced in June that Namibia's borders would be opened to some countries as of 15 July. However, this was not implemented, although some meetings with stakeholders had been held to agree on modalities.

In the past week, tourism minister Pohamba Shifeta said that the industry expects no tourist visits in the next three months – a situation that is likely to continue until the end of the year.

“The loss of income and massive job losses are particularly painful in rural areas,” Shifeta added.

FENATA is frustrated by the delay in reopening Namibia’s borders. “Government’s silence is suffocating the sector,” the association said.

“Without clarity and commitment to a date for the resumption of travel, which would give the industry hope again, tourism in Namibia is doomed to failure.”

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