Accommodation restriction scrapped for tourists
09 September 2020 | Tourism
Namibia has relaxed the strict requirements for travelling to the country, scrapping a previously introduced seven-day residence requirement as a form of quarantine.
Tourists are now allowed to travel across the country from the moment they arrive in Namibia. However, on the fifth day – no matter where they may find themselves in the country – they will be tested for Covid-19.
This measure was announced by tourism minister Pohamba Shifeta in Windhoek yesterday.
“Following the announcement of the Tourism Revival Initiative protocols in August and the opening of Hosea Kutako International Airport, no new bookings have been made. Actually, there have been more cancellations,” Shifeta said.
These cancellations alone have resulted in the country losing revenue of N$115.7 million. Thus the desired goal, which had been negotiated for months, was not achieved.
“This has had a direct negative impact on cash flow, which has resulted in further salary cuts and layoffs. We realised that a rethink in our approach was needed,” Shifeta said, adding that other countries in the region have opened their borders with fewer restrictions, placing Namibia at a disadvantage.
The tourism sector is hotly contested around the world and Namibia is in direct competition to attract holidaymakers. In order to save at least part of this year’s high tourist season, government has therefore agreed on “more attractive protocols”.
Based on this, tourists must still have a negative PCR test result that is less than 72-hours old when they arrive in Namibia.
Having landed at Hosea Kutako international airport, guests can travel to their pre-booked destination and take part in tourist activities there. “If guests stay there for less than five days, they may continue their journey. They only need to be available for a test on day five of their stay in Namibia,” Shifeta said.
A technical team is able to test tourists “in every corner of the country”, thanks to modern technology. The test results will be available on the seventh day, Shifeta promised.
A new laboratory has been set up, where the tests will be available in record time. If the result is negative, guests can continue their journey. “If the result is positive, they will be placed in an isolation facility established by the health ministry but at their own cost and be treated according to national guidelines,” Shifeta said.
“We are really grateful. This relaxation shows what can be achieved with teamwork,” Gitta Paetzold of the Hospitality Association of Namibia said.