Namibia records regional tourist boom
By Southern Times Writer
WINDHOEK – The Namibian tourism sector is reaping the rewards of an interregional tourism boom with latest figures released by that country’s Ministry of Environment and Tourism showing that the sector achieved an astounding R6,3 billion in expenditure from tourist.
Namibia included tourism as one of its key economic drivers and a potential mass job creator in the country’s National Development Plans meant to stimulate rapid economic growth and unlock investment opportunities for locals.
Particular focus to stimulate the tourism sector has improved because of preference given to regional and domestic tourism to reduce unforeseen circumstances like the 2008 experience when conventional European tourist numbers dropped because of a world economic crisis.
Namibian’s Minister of Environment and Tourism Pohamba Shifeta gave an overview of the sector’s 2016 performance. Shifeta’s overview was outlined in the Namibian Domestic Tourism Expenditure Survey.
The survey results show that tourist inflows from the SADC member states have swelled significantly.
The improving tourism numbers in Namibia, a country regarded as one of the most attractive tourist destinations in the region, are also assisted with a deliberate Government policy to stimulate domestic tourism in a manner that creates employment and income for the local folk.
“With a combined expenditure of R6,3 billion and total trips of around 5,79 million generated in the domestic market in 2015, the significance of this market to boost total tourism demand and offset potential economic shocks from the international tourist source markets cannot be overstated,” Shifeta said.
Further information contained in the survey also show that South Africans are the major visitors to Namibia while a significant number of Zimbabweans, Zambians and Angolans also dominate the list.
Despite the country being one of the most peaceful and well governed in the region Namibia has also been a treasured destination by tourist because of its welcoming immigration laws where most travellers across SADC do not have to apply for travelling visas in their own country but get free entry visas at all the ports of entry.
Another contributing factor to Namibia’s improving regional tourist arrivals has been the deliberate policy by most SADC countries to promote free movements of goods and services across member state borders.
In his assessment Shifeta also underscored the importance of collection and correlation of accurate tourism data for the country to ascertain its progress in their quest to develop a world-class tourism sector that has potential to unlock economic growth and prosperity in the near future.
Namibia boasts of some of the world’s immaculate, and scintillating tourist destinations including the sand dunes in the coastal part of the country, Sossusvlei, the skeleton coast, and other attractive natural scenery on most of their highways that have seen more tourist interested.
The report compiled to create a general expenditure, travel and living patterns by tourist coming to Namibia and those who enjoy domestic tourism show that the country’s coastal, northern and Khomas regions are the most popular destinations from a tourist perspective.
A closer look at the survey shows that the bulk of the tourist flocking into Namibia from other SADC countries are keen to travel by road for exploration while a significant number is also made up by those who look at the country as a second home, while in search of future opportunities.