Namibia's Tourism Sector Limps Towards Recovery

Windhoek, Namibia — THE Namibian tourism and hospital industry is showing positive signs of recovery from the lull triggered by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The sector has plunged since a lockdown announced by the government of President Hage Geingob to curb a spread of the pandemic that reached Namibia on March 14.

A Romanian couple constituted the two first cases.

Government eased the lockdown restrictions in August, allowing international travel.

However, despite efforts to ramp up tourism activity, occupancy rates across most hospitality establishments are low in the economy.

Rand Merchant Bank (RMB) noted that November figures showed that occupancy rates are 13, 5 percent nationally compared to 56,4 percent a year ago.

In spite of that gap, the financial institution stated that it has been informative on a recovery, albeit at a slow pace.

This is because during the lockdown, occupancy rates had declined to levels around 4 percent and 5 percent.

"So, the latest figures offer some comfort given the economy relies on proceeds from the sector, especially from a domestic employment perspective," RMB's Daniel Kavishe and Neville Mandimika stated jointly.

Kavishe is the Economist for Sub-Saharan Africa. Mandimika is the Africa Strategist in the Global Markets division.

The two experts said tourism across the continent in 2021 should centre around economies that could quickly ensure vaccine availability in their markets.

Stakeholders have been urged to also price their products and services competitively given the ramp up in international flights and as several economies start vaccination programmes.

In 2019, contribution of travel and tourism to Namibia's gross domestic product (GDP) was 10,9 percent. A record of 1,68 million foreign tourists visited.

A country of 2 million people, Namibia, according to the most recent statistics, has confirmed 16 913 cases, including 164 deaths.

A total of 14 981 people have recovered.

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