Namibia first to welcome tourists

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Tiri Masawi

Windhoek – Namibia this week became the first country in Southern Africa to allow tourists into the country, albeit at a controlled level.

President Hage Geingob hopes the tentative step forward will breathe life into the R20 billion tourism sector that has been hit hard by border closures triggered by COVID-19.

Opening doors to tourists could also help the aviation sector.

However, how far this will go towards boosting tourism and aviation will depend on whether source countries allow their citizens to fly out, and how much confidence tourists have in travelling while the new coronavirus continues to claim lives across the world.

Arrivals will be allowed from July 6 when Namibia eases into a more relaxed level five of lockdown though the state of emergency remains in place.

President Geingob told the media this week that Namibia would migrate from stage three to stage four from June 30. Stage three will see points of entry remaining closed while the Ministry of Tourism will start the process of assessing how to implement international tourist arrivals in preparation for stage five.

Namibia has recorded 63 cases of coronavirus.

 

 

President Geingob also said Southern African leaders had direct telephone access to each other as they co-ordinated responses to COVID-19, and they were in constant contact as they sought ways to fluidly conduct commerce.

“I have a direct phone contacts with my colleagues in the region as regularly as possible and I do not even have to go through their personal assistants; but as leaders we all agreed that we need a direct engagement with each other to find the best ways of dealing with the coronavirus,” he said.

President Geingob said SADC states are in concurrence that COVID-19 could only be overcome through working together.

“There is no way one country can be able to deal with this situation alone but rather we need to find ways to work together as constantly as possible. We need to share ideas as often as possible for our citizens in the region if our plans to deal with the virus are going to reap the expected rewards,” he said.

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