Tourist arrivals increase by 2.5%

By Rosalia David

THE number of tourist arrivals in the country increased by 2.5 percent in 2019, the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism (MEFT) has revealed in its tourists statistical 2019 report.

According to the report, the arrivals recorded a slight increase from 1 557 279 in 2018 to 1 595 973 in 2019.

However, it had been projected that tourists visiting Namibia would increase again by 3.4 percent in 2020 but due to the Covid-19 pandemic, foreign arrivals have been negatively affected.

“The peak of 12.2 percent in 2014 was a result of the significant marketing efforts achieved during the Adventure World Travel Summit (AWTS). Thereafter there is a significant decline which is due to marketing budget reduction of the Namibia Tourism Board (NTB) over time.”

The total number of tourist arrivals for 2019 was dominated by guests from Angola, South Africa and Zambia which accounted for 36.1 percent, 16.9 percent and 15.4 percent respectively.

“The figure from the European markets decreased by 16.4 percent as compared to 1.9 percent decrease in 2018 … while African markets increased with 7.5 percent and other regions increased by 5.6 percent.”

Meanwhile, a total of 1 681 336 foreign travellers visited Namibia as compared to a total of 1 659 762 in 2018, which represents a 1.3 percent increase over the period.

The foreign arrivals category was made up of 94.9 percent tourists, 3.3 percent same-day visitors, 1.4 percent returning residents and others at 0.4 percent. Apart from the slight increase recorded in 2019, the average growth over the last four years (2015 to 2018) has been modest, below four percent.

It is stated that the slow growth may be attributed to various global factors such as world financial crisis and due to limited marketing efforts.

“This could be attributed to the fact that source markets had reached their peak that leaves NTB to venture into new potential markets such as Asian, Australian and Middle Eastern markets.

Over the years, the foreign arrivals figure had been dominated by travellers from Angola mainly seeking medical, shopping and visiting family and friends. In 2019, 36.1 percent of Angolan travellers made up the total figure of foreign arrivals into Namibia, while travellers from Brazil and Russia recorded the lowest, amounting to 0.2 percent and 0.3 percent respectively.”

Due to the current pandemic, MEFT outlined the importance of realigning marketing strategies to promote Namibia as a safe destination during and post Covid-19.

“The Namibian tourism industry should consider boosting domestic tourism, to serve as a buffer against external shocks such as pandemics, Ebola and other force majeure. The Government in collaboration with the Namibia Airports Company should consider accelerating the upgrading of the Hosea Kutako International Airport to make Namibia one of the best connection hubs in SADC, as proposed in the National Sustainable Tourism Growth and Development Strategy.”

In addition, MEFT says it is necessary to consider upgrading the computerised border system at the airport to ensure effective and efficient capturing of arrival and departure data.