Southern Times Writer
Windhoek – Namibia’s tourism industry has withstood the financial pressures of dwindling overseas arrivals as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic because of a robust marketing strategy, Tourism, Environment and Forestry Minister Pohamba Shifeta has said.
Unveiling encouraging tourism arrival numbers for the year, Minister Shifeta said the government was going all out to boost domestic and regional tourism.
“The total tourist arrivals of 169,565 in 2020 represent a massive 89.4 percent decline in comparison to the 1,595,973 tourist’s arrival of the previous year in 2019. We also noted that on average 7-10 percent occupancy was witnessed in Q3 and Q4 of 2020 according to NTB (National Tourism Board) levy returns data. The average occupancy for Q1 and Q2 in 2021 increased to 10–15 percent. Of that, about 70–80 percent of these average occupancies were driven by domestic tourists,” he said.
He emphasised that domestic tourism offered the quickest and most sustainable path to economic recovery.
“Domestic tourism is being sparked for several reasons. A primary trend being, what I deem, ‘revenge tourism’, which is caused by frustrations of the lockdown that limited travel restrictions domestically. Hence, people want to break free and enjoy.
“Another trend seen is the ‘staycation’. Due to the prevailing COVID-19 scare, some people choose to stay closer to home. This is good news, and while I hope that the staycation trend will continue and spread to more places within Namibia, we cannot expect this level of demand to persist,” Minister Shifeta said.
He said growth required strong public-private partnerships.
“Social media campaigns have proven effective thus far. Amplifying focus on unexplored tourist destinations would also add novelty to state tourism. Such messaging must include two things that are critical for travellers: safety assurance and an attractive travel destination.
“Another element is the value for money proposition. Unfortunately, once the offerings do not match the value, the traveller starts to lack consumer surplus. Better value propositions are sought for,” he said.