Tourism sector loses N$116m in cancellations . . . As Ministry announces amended arrival protocols

Clifton Movirongo

The Tourism Ministry has announced that the tourism industry has recorded net cancellations of N$115.7 million since the announcement of implementation protocols of the tourism revival initiative.

This comes as Namibia recorded zero arrivals in the first week of its tourism initiative, which kicked off on 1 September. The Ministry has now announced amendments to its initial protocols in a bid to attract tourists to the country.

According to Tourism minister Pohamba Shifeta the revision, will allow some flexibilities to the implementation protocols, while balancing the necessary health and safety measures.

“Upon arrival at the Hosea Kutako International Airport, the tourists proceed to the pre-booked facility, that is their first destination and engage in the planned daily tourist activities at the facility for the number of days the tourist is staying there,” Shifeta said on Tuesday.

He added, “If the tourist intends to spend less than five days at the pre-booked facility, the tourist can proceed to the next destination. However, on day five the tourist must be available for swabbing wherever they find themselves.”

Unlike other countries in the region that have opened up their borders with fewer restrictions, Namibia according to the minister is having a reassurance strategy and will not only rely on the previous less than 72 hours test results.

“The re-testing here in Namibia is not that the Health Ministry does not trust the results, but it is because as a country with a system, you do not rely on any other system and you must reassure yourself that everything is in order,” he said.

Probed on the result delay concerns, the minister said that a special exclusive laboratory for quick results was now available.

“The MHSS will enhance their capacity to expedite the process and swabbing will be done everywhere as there are available human resource personnel,” Shifeta said.

The minister said that all airlines with Bilateral Aviation Safety Agreements with Namibia have been engaged and positive responses have been received with the major airlines keen to restart their services to Namibia, adding that Air Namibia has also communicated its intention to resume international flights.

“We need to retain and sustain the employment and livelihoods of people in the tourism industry. We are talking about more than 120,000 people. It is a big portion of national employment, percentage wise, in a small economy like Namibia,” he said.

“There are many bookings in the system. As you know this is a part of our peak time from September to December. That is when we normally would have more than 30% of international tourists arriving. So, there is still hope that with the rearrangements and amendments of these protocols, we will still have tourists arriving this year.”

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