NAMIBIA has made a giant leap with regards to broadening its reach in the tourism market as the country has been removed from the red list by the United Kingdom, which means it is now considered a safe destination to travel during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Namibia has been considered a high-risk travel destination since January 2021 due to new and emerging strains of the coronavirus.
Several countries have since been removed from the list, however, a majority of African countries have been left on list.
This has caused an uproar with travellers from the affected countries, who are required to quarantine at own cost for up to 10 days upon arrival in the UK.
The Chief Executive Officer of the Hospitality Association of Namibia (HAN), Gitta Paetzold, said the latest move is good news for Namibia and the whole southern African region, as it once again confirms that the international community recognises the safety and professionalism in which the region is conducting its tourism operations.
Paetzold added that much of the credit goes to South Africa, and all its stakeholders there who made huge effort and funds available to convince the UK government since May to take South Africa off the red list.
“The UK is South Africa’s biggest inbound market, while the outbound market (people travelling from South Africa to the UK) is also reasonably high, hence the absolute urgency to reopen travel routes between the two countries. We are told that since yesterday, SA Tour Operators have already seen an increase of 150% in bookings coming in from the UK market,” Paetzold said.
She added that in Namibia, the UK tourism market is not as huge as it is in South Africa, however, it is still is a very important source market.
In 2019, 5% of accommodation in Namibia was booked by travellers from the UK, and the market has huge potential to grow.
“Already now, many of our high-end lodges enjoy a sizable share of the UK travellers. This year, due to the stringent measures, the UK market dropped down to below 0.8%. What is important to note is that from Monday, 11 October, all fully vaccinated people no longer need to isolate on return to the UK,” Paetzold said.
She said that this reemphasises the need for all countries to step up vaccination efforts, which is the key to global tourism recovery.
In South Africa, Petzold explained, there is a roll up your sleeve campaign running to encourage people get vaccinated and actively contributing to the economic recovery.
“We hope and trust that this positive trend, and the example of our international partners and markets, will serve as confirmation that tourism recovery and vaccination go hand in hand,” Paetzold said.
Namibia, since recording its first Covid-19 case in March 2020, has recorded more than 127 000 cases, but new infections have been slowing over the past two months.