Windhoek — Namibia as an international tourist destination recorded over 1.57 million foreign tourist arrivals in 2016, an increase of 3.6 percent from the 1.51 million arrivals in 2015.
The information is contained in Namibia's 2016 Tourist Statistics Report, launched yesterday in Windhoek.
Countries with the largest number of tourists who visited Namibia in 2016 were Angola, South Africa, Zambia, Germany, United Kingdom, United States and France, the report said, in that order.
But Environment and Tourism Minister Pohamba Shifeta said the shortage of beds in the tourism industry is also being experienced in Windhoek.
"We can't have big events. We don't have conference venues to host big events. We also can't accommodate people in the city (Windhoek). We go as far as accommodating them in Rehoboth or elsewhere. Currently it's not matching," he noted.
Regarding the launched report, he said these figures give the government confidence that they are making good progress in their efforts to grow and develop the tourism industry as a global sector.
He explained that although Angola tops the list of highest countries having citizens visiting Namibia, the neighbouring country's buying power has diminished since the collapse of the oil price - which plummeted from over $100 a barrel in mid-2014 to a low of about $27 in January 2016.
But prior to this slump, many wealthy Angolans bought properties in Namibia - where they could access quality medical services, schools and infrastructure often lacking in their home market (a result of 26 years of civil war).
"Angolan visitors have dropped due to the declining buying power. They depended on the oil income, which went down by almost 90 percent or so. You now find less Angolans coming here to spend," Pohamba said.
Therefore, he said, Angolans coming to Namibia are coming because of the proximity of the two countries but are not spending or sleeping over as they used to.
According to him, they used to come to do shopping in bulk at the border towns of Oshikango and Katwitwi but the situation has changed, leaving these towns deserted.
Shifeta emphasized that Namibia needs to capitalize on the increased international airlines which translate into more tourist arrivals, by investing in the needed infrastructure to meet the demand.
"We are nowhere near the ceiling of what we can achieve in tourism, and we are nowhere near the limits of what tourism can achieve for our country," he said.
The Angolan tourists market remains the major African market although there is a fall of about 11 percent as compared to 2015. The South African and Zambian tourist markets maintained their second and third positions since 2015.
The Germans showed dominance in overseas tourist markets with a whopping 35 percent increase from 2015, while the UK and USA took second and third place respectively.