Massive decline in tourism arrivals

12 August 2021 | Tourism

Windhoek • Ellanie Smit

There were only 169 565 tourist arrivals last year, compared to more than 1.595 million the previous year, indicating an 89% decline in tourist arrivals.
Tourism minister Pohamba Shifeta told this newspaper that the ministry in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) had conducted a Socio-Economic Impact Assessment (SEIA) of Covid-19 on tourism sector in Namibia.
The assessments targeted National Protected Areas, Community Conservancies and Nature-Based Tourism (NBT) enterprises.
Preliminary findings have shown that the local tourism industry has been hard hit by the Covid-19 pandemic and caused the ensuing socio-economic crisis.
According to Shifeta, tourism businesses (e.g. restaurants, hotels, tour guides, transport operators, etc.) that were assessed, suffered a 97% drop in demand and a 93% decline in revenue, which resulted in retrenchments and wage reductions or business cessation.
Moreover, industries linked to the tourism sector were uniquely exposed to both the direct and indirect effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and are disproportionately affected in the long-run.
Shifeta added that the SEIA revealed that more than 50% of surveyed entities reported retrenchments and wage reductions since the Covid-19 pandemic struck, and almost 80% of businesses had reduced staff working hours, with 1 in 4 workers transitioning to part-time work.

Positive mindset
“Despite the pandemic, the industry has shown a positive mindset to deal with the crisis, although due to the prolonged run of the Covid-19 impact, some businesses sadly had closed. Some business owners indicated that to deal with cash flow shortages, they sought alternatives like using personal savings, requested repayment holidays from financial institutions, or decreased selling prices to increase attraction of clients, etc.”
The ministry together with UNDP organized a stakeholder working session for today to review the strategic recommendations towards the recovery and revival of the tourism sector.