TOURISM

TOURISM 2024-02-20T10:55:12+00:00

Namibia’s diversity of ancient landscapes and unique natural phenomena, ranging from the world’s oldest desert and the wetlands and lush woodlands of the Zambezi Region to desert-dwelling black rhino and lions, offers visitors an unrivalled experience. Add to this the best road network in Africa and a well-developed tourism infrastructure and it’s easy to understand why the country is one of the top tourist destinations in Africa.

Namibia’s tourism industry is expected to continue its recovery to pre-pandemic levels in 2023 following the devastating effect of the COVID-19 pandemic. Tourist arrivals increased from an all-time low of 169,565 in 2020 to 232,756 in 2021 and were projected to increase by 4.6% to 243,466 in 2022.

The tourism industry still has a long way to go to return to the pre-pandemic peak of 1,595,973 tourist arrivals in 2019, but occupancy figures for the first four months of 2023 have been encouraging. Room occupancy stood at 51.8% in April 2023, compared to 36.5% in the corresponding month of 2022, but declined marginally to 50.8% in May. Bed occupancy increased from 39,524 in March 2023 in to 44,482 in April 2023. Tourist arrivals are expected to increase further during the traditional peak tourist season between May and September.

Namibia’s main tourist source markets (Germany, Austria and Switzerland) accounted for 31% of visitors, an increase which has partly been attributed to the availability of ten direct flights a week between Frankfurt and Windhoek. Local tourists accounted for 18.6% of travellers followed by South Africans (8.3%) and visitors from France (6.8%).

The industry could experience an increase in international arrivals following the depreciation of the Namibian dollar against the US dollar and the Euro which makes travelling cheaper and gives foreign tourists more spending power. The number of domestic travellers is, however, expected to decrease as higher inflation and several successive interest rate hikes bite deeper into the pockets of Namibians.

TOURISM SATELLITE ACCOUNT

The 6th edition of the Tourism Satellite Account (TSA) was launched in Windhoek in May 2022. The TSA provides data on, amongst others, travel and tourism’s economic impact, as well as its contribution to the GDP, employment and capital investment in the industry.

The project was spearheaded by the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism (MEFT), with the support of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and UN Namibia.

ETOSHA ROAD UPGRADES

The MEFT has spent about N$136 million on the upgrading and regravelling of the road network in Namibia’s flagship conservation area, Etosha National Park, between February 2019 and May 2023. In addition to the upgrading and regravelling of 195 km of the worst sections in the west of the park, the ministry also undertook road maintenance work on 74 km of the roads in the central and eastern sections of the park. An amount of N$12.3 million has been budgeted for the upgrading of tourist roads during the 2023/24 financial year.

TOURISM CONCESSIONS

The MEFT will earn N$73.5 million in concession fees over a period of 12 years after awarding concessions in the Namib-Naukluft Park to three operators. The concessions were awarded for guided 4×4 tours from Lüderitz to Walvis Bay and Walvis Bay to Meob Bay, from Lüderitz to Walvis Bay and Lüderitz to Saddle Hill, as well as from Solitaire to Conception Bay and from Walvis Bay to Conception Bay.

The ministry has also awarded a concession for Dune 7 near Walvis Bay to a private operator, following criticism about the state of the popular tourism attraction. The concessionaire will offer various activities such as paragliding, dune climbing and stargazing at Dune 7. In addition, the company plans to develop a restaurant, bar, swimming pool and ten luxury chalets. It also has the optional right to erect and operate a tethered hot-air balloon.

NATIONAL TOURISM RECOVERY PLAN

One of the MEFT’s priorities for the 2023/24 financial year is the implementation of the National Tourism Sector Recovery Plan for 2022-2024 to coordinate the sector’s revival from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Strategic interventions include policy revisions, online marketing campaigns to promote the country as a tourist destination, improving accessibility and connectivity and attracting new tourist markets.

PASSENGER VESSEL ARRIVALS BOOST

The ports of Walvis Bay and Lüderitz have seen a drastic increase in the number of cruise liners and passenger vessels since the first passenger vessel docked in the Walvis Bay harbour in November 2021, following the imposition of COVID-19 restrictions in 2020. The number of vessels increased from seven in Namport’s 2021/22 financial year (1 April to 31 March) to 52 in 2022/23. The increased passenger volumes have provided a welcome boost to the tourism industry in the towns of Lüderitz, Walvis Bay and Swakopmund.

VITAL CONTACTS

CARAN – Car Rental Association of Namibia

P O Box 80368, Windhoek
Tel: +264 81 417 3797
caran.com.na

Directorate of Parks and Wildlife Management

Private Bag 13306, Windhoek
Tel: +264 61 282 4211
met.gov.na

EIF – Environmental Investment Fund Namibia

P O Box 28157, Windhoek
Tel: +264 61 431 7700
eif.org.na

FENATA – Federation of Namibian Tourism Associations

P O Box 86495, Windhoek
Tel: +264 61 230 337
fenata.org

Chairman: Martin Webb-Bowen (TASA – Ultimate Safaris)

Vice Chairman: Kenneth Kapitako Nependa (ETEA – Sandwich Dune Tours & Safaris)

Secretary: Janet Wilson Moore (HAN – Gondwana Collection Namibia/ Hospitality) Janet Wilson-Moore

Treasurer: Howard Sievertsen (CARAN – Namibia Car Rentals )

HAN – Hospitality Association of Namibia

P O Box 86078, Windhoek
Tel: +264 61 222 904
hannamibia.com

NACOBTA – Namibia Community Based Tourism

P O Box 86099, Windhoek
Tel: +264 61 221 918

NCE – Namibia Chamber of Environment

P O Box 40723, Windhoek
Tel: +264 61 240 140
Cell: +264 81 162 5807
n-c-e.org

NAPHA – Namibia Professional Hunting Association

P O Box 11291, Windhoek
Tel: +264 61 234 455
napha-namibia.com

Namibia Wildlife Resorts

Private Bag 13378, Windhoek
Tel: +264 61 285 7111
nwr.com.na

Windhoek Reservations Office
Tel: +264 61 285 7200

MICE – Meetings Incentive Conferences and Events & Tour Planning
Tel: +264 61 285 7108 / 67 / 69 / 88

Ministry of Environment and Tourism: Directorate of Environmental Affairs

Private Bag 13306, Windhoek
Tel: +264 61 254 2840
met.gov.na

TASA – The Tour And Safari Association

P O Box 11534, Windhoek
Tel: +264 61 238 423
tasa.na