NAMIBIA’S Tourism Industry has a long road ahead before it will fully recover.
Any chances for some form of recovery during the traditional high season of July were smothered by the current high-risk status imposed on Namibia in terms of various international travel advisories.
Gitta Paetzold, the Chief Executive Officer of Hospitality Association of Namibia said that a number of Namibian operators have already received requests from international agents to reveal the status of vaccination of staff at the tourism places to visit, and the vaccination status will definitely become part of the selection criteria to choose the most desirable entity destination.
“In the tourism sector, there is a strong belief, that because of the people-to-people business they are in, it is advised that operators ensure a safe environment for visitors and an environment in which the personal service can take place safely,” Peatzold said.
According to Paetzold, in Europe, there have seen governments proposing, that in due course, freedom of movement, such as eating at restaurants, attending large events, might be permitted to vaccinated people only, to help curb the rise in Covid 19 cases, which means, that while people may not be forced to get vaccinated, they may find themselves restricted in the choices of movement and entertainment going forward.
Therefore, going forward, people may have to choose whether they are still willing to remain working in the tourism sphere, where the expectations are high for people engaged in tourism service to be vaccinated, for their own safety, and that of the people they connect with & serve, or whether to choose a career or place of work, where close contact to people is not required.
Namibia seems to slowly be moving out of the deepest and most challenging time of the pandemic to date, the Hospitality Association of Namibia has captured the performance of the sector, the commercial tourism accommodation over the past 6 months, and has to admit, that Namibia’s tourism industry still has a long and hard road ahead to full recovery.
The second quarter of 2021 revealed a national average occupancy of just over 23%, compared to almost 54% in the year 2019, the last normal year, and for comparison sake, the report for 2020, where the second quarter, months April to June being the near lock-down months with travel bans in Namibia last year revealed an all-time low occupancy of barely 4,5%.
“This negative status resulted in losses of millions of dollars in potential business through cancellations of planned travels to Namibia for the period from July to September,” she said.
Paetzold noted that Namibia currently still holds the status of “high-risk virus variant status”, which is a strong travel barrier at the international level, they hope and trust that information on the decreasing COVID 19 numbers, increasing vaccinations and improved and strengthened state at health facilities will sound out positive messaging across the globe and lead to Namibia being categorized as a low-risk, and hopefully soon desirable travel destination, a status that our tourism industry is working for, and deserves, to be able to build back and create livelihoods and opportunities for all.
Paetzold lastly indicated that they are not near any form of new normality or profitable levels for tourism as yet at all, and it will definitely take huge and united national efforts to get Namibia’s tourism sector back on its feet.