The Minister of Environment, Forestry and Tourism, Pohamba Shifeta reassured the tourism industry that the ministry is doing its utmost best to revive the sector and to ensure that it recovers and emerges stronger after the shocks that have been caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Speaking at the launch of 2019 tourism statistics report this week, Shifeta said successes nurtured by the tourism industry over the years since independence are now at risk of being reversed as unprecedented challenges brought by COVID-19 have ravaged the global tourism sector.
"It is becoming clearer every day that Covid-19 is here to stay for the foreseeable future and we need to see how best we can re-establish the tourism sector without jeopardizing public health in the context of the 'new normal'. This is a difficult balancing act that is currently confronting many countries globally and we are no exception," Shifeta said.
Shifeta added that there is a need for both government and the private sector to realign efforts to ensure that Namibia regains its position as a tourism destination of choice, He noted that the industry should not lose sight of the fact that there are still underdeveloped opportunities in the tourism sector.
"Around the world people are increasingly searching for authentic experiences, whereby Namibia is well positioned to benefit from its diversity of products such as wide open spaces, natural beauty, unique cultures and heritage. I am sure that international tourists will again be attracted to the unique experiences we have to offer," he said.
Until this year, the tourism sector has shown remarkable resilience to economic recession and crises by continuing to grow its contribution to the economy year after year, in fact, the 2019 tourist statistical report shows that the foreign arrivals increased by 1.3% from 2018 to 2019 and tourist figures increased by 2.5% for the same period. A record of 1,681,336 foreign tourists visited Namibia in 2019.
Meanwhile the report indicates that visitors from Angola, South Africa, Zambia, Germany, France and United Kingdom dominated the tourist arrivals to Namibia in 2019. The period September - December accounted for the most arrivals with 34.4% of all tourists travelling to Namibia in this period.