18 December 2012

Namibia: Holiday Accommodation Shortage Hits the Coast

Swakopmund — The coast has run out of accommodation for holiday-goers who did not make prior bookings, and enterprising coastal residents leaving for holiday destinations elsewhere in the country are cashing in on the situation.

However, the lack of accommodation has not dampened the holiday spirit of those with a strong yearning for the sunny beaches and cooler temperatures along the Atlantic Ocean. The hardier and more adventurous are even camping in their vehicles.

In Walvis Bay the town council, which can accommodate 1 260 people in its accommodation establishments scattered along the beaches, has run out of beds. Accommodation establishments at the coast are fully booked for the period starting on Thursday this week until after New Year, New Era can confirm.

"We have a long waiting list of hopefuls who want to be accommodated in case someone cancels at the last minute. Even private accommodation facilities are full to capacity in Walvis Bay," said Beverly Fernandez, who is in charge of the Walvis Bay Municipality bungalows and camping site at Langstrand.

Guesthouses and lodges in Swakopmund also indicated that they are fully booked and have put several people on their waiting lists.

"This happens every year. Some people tend to wait until the last minute to book accommodation. Unfortunately our overseas clients make their bookings in advance," said an employee of the Swakopmund municipal bungalows.

The dearth of accommodation has not dampened Francis van Wyk's festive mood though. He is camping inside his vehicle, a bakkie. "Anyway it is the festive season, there will be no time for sleep," he said.

Coastal resident Rentia Khomachas says the lack of accommodation is always a good opportunity to make extra income for her family, by renting out her flat.

"I am leaving for the south to visit my family so I thought of making a bit of extra money by renting out my flat," she said. She has been doing this for the past few years, even though she is cautious, saying it is a bit of a gamble since tenants could vandalise the property. "Although it is a bit risky, I have been doing this for the past three to four years," she said.

Over 300 vehicles have entered the coastal towns of Walvis Bay and Swakopmund between last Friday [December 14] and Monday morning [December 17], according to the police in the Erongo Region. The police in collaboration with the West Coast Safety Initiative did the actual count of vehicles arriving at the coast.

Aubrey Oosthuizen of the West Coast Safety Initiative says they expect the number of visitors to the coast to pick up towards the weekend.

Meanwhile, the police are satisfied with the situation so far, and say motorists are "on their best behaviour".

"We hope that it remains the same throughout the festive season," the police said.

Police say they have not yet observed an increase in crime as a result of last weekend's influx of visitors to the coast.

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