ALTHOUGH marketing leisure travel to Namibians at reduced prices local tourism will not pull the industry back from complete ruin brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown of international travel as a result.
“Domestic tourism makes up for a maximum of 15% of leisure travel, the financial hardship currently faced by almost everyone will certainly reduce this percentage sharply, and the tourism industry thus does not expect domestic travel to reach even 10% of normal leisure travel this year”.
This where the sentiments Gitta Paetzold, CEO of the Hospitality Association of Namibia, said they are holding their hopes up for some form of a recovery. Namibia has had some advantage due to the prompt action by government, and early lock-down and success in containing the spread of Covid-19 cases in our country.
A number of lodges and other establishments have put special offers in place to invite Namibians to travel, and it is encouraging to see that some have taken up this wonderful opportunity.
The month of May with its long weekends and public holidays has seen a number of Namibians make use of this unique opportunity to “discover their country”, which currently is available exclusively to Namibians, which is an attraction in itself.
Paetzold noted the long weekend in May saw the National Park Etosha fill up with visitors enjoying the fauna, flora and wildlife in abundance and the added spectacle of the Etosha Pan still filled with water, which is a sight not often seen by many.
These specials are said to last for at least the next few months, but Namibians are reminded that in general, a number of establishments have special deals and conditions for Namibians, especially outside the high season, so the promotion of domestic travel is not new to Namibia, but currently is highlighted as the ray of hope for the tourism sector still suffering from closed borders and thus closed to the normal flow of guests.
“The only way the Namibian tourism sector, including car rental, activities, tour operations, guiding, hunting, and all the other facets of tourism can be saved, is by opening of our national borders, albeit it through careful and well-thought-through and controlled measures, including travel bubbles, air bridges and other bilateral arrangements with such markets that can show some proof of controlling and testing for COVID, prior to seeing their nationals depart for their travel destinations, “said Paetzold.
According to Paetzold, Namibians feel strongly, that our country is a perfect destination post-covid, as we offer the wide open spaces, where social distancing comes natural, they have a sparse population and a tourism industry that already has set itself up according to safety protocols including social distancing and stepped-up hygiene.
The opening of restaurants for the “wine & dine” experience at the start of Stage 3 on 2 June was another major milestone in showing, that the tourism industry as one of the most controlled and regulated industry, has what it takes to provide safe and special service to the guests, both local, and hopefully soon again the international guests, allowing them all to enjoy the natural, soulful and liberating beauty of Namibia, its sunshine, clean air and healthy environment.