Swakopmund tourism takes off

The preferred holiday destination
Swakopmund is the main coastal escape for Namibians, thanks to its numerous activities and cool climate.
Desiree Gases
During the December holidays, thousands of visitors flock to the coast.
This migration happens for various reasons: Swakopmund has a real holiday feel; there are numerous events and festivals; and especially during the December holidays, the cool Namibian coast offers relief from the intense heat of the rest of the country.
Event planners, entrepreneurs, exhibitors and accommodation providers capitalize on the influx of visitors, which boosts the local tourism industry and supported entrepreneurs at the Swakopmund Christmas Fair, the Nedbank Food Festival, the Sound of Summer music festival, as well as a host of sporting events.
Chairperson of the Hospitality Association of Namibia (HAN), Hermann Kalipa, said that “we saw visitors from Botswana and South Africa, a few from Zimbabwe and Zambia, as well as Angolans. A surprise was also the number of tourists that travelled by renting vehicles with roof tents that did their own thing.”
Kalipa said that the accommodation industry was caught off guard by the number of visitors. “Even pre-Covid, visitors usually came from around 23 to 28 December and the second wave from 28 December to 3 January. This year we had guests all month long.”
He added that difficulties included suppliers running out of stock at times, which made menu planning a challenge, especially in the face of the continuous escalation of prices on food items like seafood, meat and fresh produce.
“Inconsiderate people making reservations and then not cancelling or advising on their change of plans were a problem, especially with others desperately looking for accommodation. Another bone of contention is illegal establishments (those not registered with the Namibia Tourism Board) that are not on par while asking a lot of money and not delivering in regard to cleanliness and that which was advertised. This puts the destination in a bad light.”
He added that some Swakopmund businesses that close during the busiest period remains a challenge.
According to statistics released by the Swakopmund municipality from 15 December 2022 to 1 January 2023 for 190 units, rest camp occupancy stood at 75%.
Municipal PRO Linda Mupupa said that the Special Field and Navy Forces occupied six of the units as a donation from the council to increase the police presence in the town during December to ensure the safety of residents and visitors.
“Our guests originated from all over the globe, with Namibians topping the list (4 144 guests) followed by Botswana (81 guests). We registered 90 guests from South Africa, 41 from Australia, 12 each from China and Zimbabwe, ten from Romania, six each from Norway, Armenia and Zambia, five from Kenya, four each from Congo and Iceland, three each from Germany and Netherlands, and two from Switzerland.”
Entertainment and sports events provided a boost to the local economy: The Desert Dash attracted over 900 entrants this year, with friends and friends supporting the riders during the weekend of 9 and 10 December, while the Sound of Summer music festival at Long Beach attracted around 7 000 revellers.
The Fittest in the Namib contest attracted teams from South Africa and all over Namibia, while the Sports Expo took place at the MTC Dome for the first time. “This year it might not have been well supported, but if we start promoting it from early in the year, it will grow,” Kalipa opined.
Other highlights included the return of the ever-popular Musikwoche that resumed after Covid, with 104 children participating, while the annual angling bonanza and the Henties Bay Touchies tournament also attracted a huge number of people on Family Day.
According to Henties Bay Spar owner Johann Agenbag, the coast is always busy at this time of the year and the number of clients they welcomed, is similar to what they had last year. “I always expect this time of the year to be busy,” he said.