Wed, 21 Oct 2020

By Ndalimpinga Iita

WINDHOEK, Sept. 27 (Xinhua) -- Bruised by COVID-19 outbreak, the Namibian tourism enterprises and traders are optimistic about business revival as the country open its borders to international visitors.

On Sept. 11, Namibia welcomed the arrival of Ethiopian Airline carrying 43 passengers at the country's flagship Hosea Kutako International Airport after a six-month stoppage.

The country opened up borders to tourist, which forms part of Namibia's Tourism Revival Initiative, geared towards reviving the sector. Subsequently, the Namibian government ended the six months State of Emergency on Sept. 17, initially put in place as a measure to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Upon hearing the news that the country has opened its economy and borders for international travel, players in the tourism and hospitality sector are planning their comeback.

Penny Nghifinwa sells hand-made crafts in the Namibian capital of Windhoek's central business district. Her business was driven to a slump by COVID-19 following lockdown measures and a ban on international travel.

"Between March and June, I could not trade due to restriction. But even after resumption of business, locals rarely buy arts and craft products," Nghifinwa said Friday.

Reliant on international visitors to generate a substantial income, she is looking forward to the arrival of tourists. She is even preparing new crafts.

"I added a unique element to crafts I recently made. The aim is to stand out and attract tourists to my stall. I also hope to get someone to market my products on social media. So we are eagerly waiting for the arrival of the tourists," she said.

Nghifinwa's approach is envisaged to revive her business, whose main clients were usually international tourists seeking to immerse in local culture and arts.

She is not alone. Gideon Iithete runs RAGGI Transfer Tours and Safaris Namibia. Like many enterprises in the sector, his business for the international market also came to a halt.

Despite enduring disgruntling months due to COVID-19 restrictions, Iithete is optimistic that, coupled with local travel, he will be able to re-build his venture.

"Namibian borders are open to international travel, and the business is ready to provide transport. Safety is our priority," he said.

Mufaro Nesongano, Namibia Wildlife Resort's manager for corporate communications and online media said that the organization has embarked upon robust marketing of special packages at various accommodation facilities and national parks. He also highlighted the need for the formation of strategic partnerships and harnessing the power of technology to accelerate sectoral growth.

Meanwhile, Pohamba Shifeta, Minister of Environment, Forestry and Tourism, said that COVID-19 hit hard some of the leading tourism source markets, particularly those dependent on international visitors.

"Apart from accommodation and general activities, other areas affected include the trophy hunting component, wrecked as the majority of the hunters come from abroad," Shifeta said.

In the interim, he said that through the targeted International Tourism Revival Initiative, tourism is set to gain momentum.

"We have prioritized issues of tourism. These entailed re-modelling and putting strategies and safety protocols in place to revive the sector," the minister said.

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