Destination Namibia sees record number of tourist arrivals

Niël Terblanché

Namibia recorded a record increase in the number of international and inbound tourists last year.

Pohamba Shifeta, the Minister of Environment, Forestry and Tourism during the launch of the Annual Tourist Statistical Report for 2022 said the country experienced a record 98.1 percent increase in tourist arrivals from 232 756 in 2021) to 461 027 in 2022. He added that the figure indicates a 28.9 percent recovery level from the annual tourist arrivals of 2019.

“The report highlights and summarizes tourist arrivals in the country and also includes variables such as age group, gender, point of entry, purpose of visit, country of origin and to some extent the sector’s performance as an economic driver. These statistics are crucial in the planning and enhancement of the tourism sector as well as the evaluation of the effect and impact of our collective interventions and programs to grow the sector,” he said.

Shifeta said that Namibia was one of the first countries in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to open borders after the Covid-19 pandemic and added that he is proud to report that both Government and private sector efforts are gradually bearing positive results towards regaining international tourist figures of 2018.

“The key indicators of this Annual Tourist Statistical Report proved 2022 to be a remarkable period post-Covid for our tourism sector, with record-breaking numbers and notable growth in tourist arrivals to the country,” he said.

He said that many factors contributed to the positive growth trend, amongst others the overall confidence of tourists in “Destination Namibia”, ease of access to the country, reformed VISA regime, availability of more airline seats to Namibia, aggressive marketing and promotional campaigns, presence and participation at international platforms, hosting of business meetings, events, the increase in the country’s brand awareness globally, quality of experience and offers.

In summary, he said that South Africa, Angola, Germany, Zambia, Botswana, France, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Italy and Switzerland make up the top ten tourist source markets for Namibia in 2022.

The majority of visitors, representing 53.1 percent of the total tourist arrivals came to Namibia between September to December of 2022, 36.1 percent of the tourist travelled between May to August and 10.8 percent travelled between the months of January to April.

According to Shifeta said it shows a shift in the travel pattern of visitors to Namibia. The annual average stay of a tourist in Namibia is 16 nights.

“It is essential to recognize that our success should not only be measured by visitor numbers only but equally by our collective commitment to sustainable tourism development practices to reduce negative environmental impacts, provision of high standards of service delivery, assurance of safety and security of visitors, enhanced visitors’ experience and value for money,” he said.

He was of the opinion that reason exists to celebrate but he cautioned that role players must be vigilant for challenges.

He urged the tourism sector to foster sustainable and smart partnerships with local communities and other strategic partners and stakeholders to ensure that tourism brings about inclusive, broad-based and long-lasting socio-economic benefits to the citizens of this country such as social and economic upliftment, employment creation and business opportunities.

The minister also urged destination managers, tour operators and all other relevant stakeholders to develop new products and services, experiences and packages, new routes, and new attractions to enhance the guest experience, but equally to make the “Destination Namibia” more appealing to repeat visitors.

“Namibia’s tourism sector stands a chance to equally benefit from opportunities by the domestic and inter-regional markets. It is imperative to increase the country’s marketing effort aimed to increase the demand for travelling by locals and regional markets in order to achieve a robust, sustainable tourism sector recovery,” he said

Shifeta pointed out that the Ministry is implementing the Tourism Sector Recovery Plan that sets out a framework for policy intervention and strategic programs to support each stage of the recovery phase.

In addition, the Ministry in collaboration with the Namibia Statistics Agency and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) has made good progress in the compilation and finalization of the sixth edition of Namibia’s Tourism Satellite Account (TSA) using the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) modality.

“The TSA will reveal the tourism sector’s contribution to our country’s Gross Domestic Product post-Covid-19 as well as the economic leakages in the sector. This report will be launched towards the end of this year,” he said.

Shifeta expressed his appreciation to key stakeholders, Namibia Tourism Board, the Ministry of Home Affairs, Immigration and Safety and Security, the Namibia Investment Promotion and Development Board and the tourism industry at large who contributed to the success of Namibia’s tourism sector in 2022.

“Your passion for Namibia, dedication, hard work and determination have paved the way for the phenomenal growth we are witnessing today,” he said.

He expressed the hope that the Annual Tourist Statistical Report 2022 will be a source of inspiration for stakeholders to continue their journey towards excellence, product innovation, sustainability, and inclusive growth in the tourism sector.

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