Windhoek - Namibia and South Africa are taking big steps to revive their tourism sectors following six months of almost zero activity as the countries tried to stem the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
More than 20,000 jobs have been lost in Namibia’s tourism sector, while the bloodbath in South Africa claims more than ten times that number.
Namibia’s Tourism Minister Pohamba Shifeta said the sector had been severely affected by the new coronavirus pandemic and the government was keen to stop the bloodletting.
Now Namibia has reopening borders to international tourists, and on September 20 Eurowings became the first European commercial airline to land at Hosea Kutako International Airport in half a year. Before that, on September 11, Ethiopian Airlines had touched down in the country.
The Eurowings flight had over 130 passengers, with The Southern Times Business made to understand that over 85 percent of the people on board were tourists and the remainder were retuning residents.
Lufthansa Group GM for Southern and East Africa Andre Schulz said he was happy that Namibia and South Africa were open for business.
“It has not been easy for the industry with the whole ban on the international travel industry. Now with Eurowings becoming the first European airline returning to Namibia and resuming operations is something special and emotional for us. We believe that the relationship between Namibia and Germany could contribute to the restart of the tourism growth,” he said.
The Namibia Tourism Board has developed guidelines for all stakeholders in the sector to abide by to facilitate commerce while observing health regulations.
Tourists will be subjected to biometric tests upon arrival and will no longer be required to be quarantined. There will be a mandatory COVID-19 test after five days stay in the country.
South Africa - which has the highest number of COVID-19 infections and deaths in Africa – will open its borders on October 1, six months and 400,000 jobs after the tourism sector was paralysed by lockdowns.
Travellers to South Africa must have tested negative for COVID-19 within 72 hours of arrival, and the approved ports of entry for air travel are OR Tambo, King Shaka and Cape Town international airports. Eighteen of the country’s 35 land border posts will be partially opened.
Travellers from high-risk countries such as the United States will not be immediately eligible for entry.