The Namibian tourism industry, adversely affected by COVID-19 pandemic, is looking at the domestic market to breathe anew.
Tourism activities came to a halt after the Namibian president declared a state of emergency and subsequent lockdown while the national parks closed between April 17 and May 5 as a result.
The Namibian government reopened parks and other leisure business activities in stages two and three of the country’s state of emergency.
Romeo Muyunda, public relations officer in the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism, said the move is geared towards promoting domestic tourism.
“During the lockdown period, clientele and business declined. We are now encouraging locals to support the tourism sector,” he said.
Meanwhile, tourism and hospitality establishments are offering incentives to locals.
Namibia Wildlife Resorts is running special to draw more locals to visit diverse establishments and nature parks, according to Mufaro Nesongano, its manager for corporate communications and online media.
“Since the international visitors are not coming to Namibia due to travel restrictions, local tourism is significant. Hence, it is imperative to grow it, otherwise we end up closing shop,” Nesongano said.
Namibia was a huge market for international tourists, receiving an average of 1.5 million tourist visitors annually, according to the 2018 Tourist Statistical Report. However, restrictions on international travel are a bottleneck to the sector.
Moreover, local enterprises have also united in an online campaign to attract locals to support tourism.
Nrupesh Soni, who runs a tourism establishment, said that players in the sector embarked on an online campaign dubbed “local is lekker” (local is good), which is focused on locals travelling within Namibia.
Through various online platforms, local accommodation establishments and tourism enterprises showcase their exclusive offers to the Namibian community.
“The aim is to enable facilities and ventures to earn an income. To encourage people to participate in domestic tourism to boost trade and commercial exchange by offering special prices and packages,” he said.
“More than 7,000 industry players are participating,” Soni said.
In the interim, besides incentives, the sector is exploring more ways on how to get back in business, according to Bernd Schneider, chairman of the Namibia Tourism Association.
“One alternative is for the broader tourism sector to look to gradually opening up. Also, we need to open up the economy in a controlled manner. We need to start operating, for people to earn an income,” he said.
These include stepping up the recommended sanitation, safety and hygiene measures as well as partnerships.
About 96.5 percent of businesses were adversely affected by COVID-19 and will continue to be affected in the coming months, according to results of a survey conducted by the Namibia Statistics Agency on the effect of COVID-19 on selected businesses in the country.
Namibia has recorded 31 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 17 recoveries as of Saturday morning, Africa CDC data showed
Source: Xinhua News Agency via CGTN