Domestic tourism campaign launched

By Confidente Reporter

THE Minister of Environment, Forestry and Tourism, Pohamba Shifeta launched the ‘Domestic Tourism’ campaign at the Strand Hotel in Swakopmund recently.

Speaking at the launch, Shifeta said despite the ongoing lockdown worldwide and what may appear to be punitive entry to Namibia due to restrictive measures to tourism and hospitality sectors under the Public Health Regulations that were aimed at curbing and containing the third wave of the coronavirus infections, the tourism and hospitality sectors continue to show great resilience.

“We, in the government, are conscious that people are more cautious about travelling, but they want to travel. Hence, the requirement of negative PCR test is now more relaxed to not older than seven days, which is very generous in comparison to global standards and norms to revive the industry,” he said.

After the first wave of Covid-19 there was a massive drop in travel with the total tourist arrivals of 169 565 in 2020 representing a massive 89.4 percent decline in comparison to the 1 595 973 tourist arrivals of 2019, the minister added.

According to Shifeta, an average of seven to 10 percent occupancy was witnessed in the third and fourth quarter of 2020 according to NTB Levy Returns data.

“The average occupancy for Q1 and Q2 in 2021 increased to 10 to 15 percent.

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Of that about 70 to 80 percent of these average occupancies were driven by domestic tourists. Therefore, domestic tourism offers the main chance for driving recovery, albeit all subsectors like the high-end fly-in safaris and tour operations will not greatly benefit from it due to limited market size and affordability.”

He said, after months in lockdown people in Namibia are ready to go out, but with parameters. Domestic tourism is being sparked for several reasons. A primary trend being caused by frustrations of the lockdown that limited travel restrictions domestically.

Hence, people want to break free and enjoy.

Another trend seen is the ‘Staycation’.

Due to the prevailing Covid-19 scare, some people choose to stay closer to home, he added.

“This is good news, and while I hope that the staycation trend will continue and spread to more places within Namibia, we cannot expect this level of demand to persist. What is required now is a strong public private partnership model to revive growth. Thus, a clear communication to the aspiring travellers that they can travel without any concern is needed.

He said social media campaigns have also proven effective thus far, amplifying focus on unexplored tourist destinations which would add novelty to state tourism.

Shifeta went on to say that, such messaging must include two things critical for travellers: Safety assurance and an attractive travel destination.

“Another element is the value for money proposition.

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Unfortunately, once the offerings do not match the value, the traveller starts to lack consumer surplus. Better value propositions are sought for. I am informed all these are taken care of within the ambit of the domestic tourism campaign that NTB is driving in collaboration with the NBC. This very noble initiative and must be applauded,” he further highlighted.