The resumption of South African Airways flights in Namibia will have a positive impact on tourist arrivals in Namibia, economists and tourism stakeholders say.
The airline announced that it will be launching new routes, namely to Lilongwe’s Kamuzu International Airport in Malawi, Windhoek’s Hosea Kutako International Airport in Namibia, and Victoria Falls Airport in Zimbabwe.
The routes are said to open ahead of the festive season in December.
According to economist Klaus Schade, the more airlines service routes to Namibia, the higher the chances for tourists to visit the country.
“Therefore, the return of South African Airways can have a positive impact on tourist arrivals in Namibia,” he said.
He stated that tourists, in particular, use South Africa as a hub to travel to other destinations in the SADC region.
Schade added that Namibia is fortunate to be served by several international airlines.
“Like Ethiopian Airlines, Qatar and Euro Link provide flights and therefore we do see opportunity from overseas. South African Airways can also tap into the overseas market and can also tap into the regional market. The more opportunities there are for tourists to visit the country, the easier it is to get here and it can attract more tourists,” he explained.
Over a year ago, South African Airways restarted operations and has struggled to sustain its current operations.
In addition, the airline lost rights to 20 international destinations. These destinations had not been served by the airline since March 2020.
The decision to revoke the airline’s 20 international licences has opened doors for other airlines to meet this demand which left the South African air carrier with only 32 international destinations it could service, reports indicate.
At the launch of Namibia’s Tourism’s Annual Tourist Arrival Statistical Report for 2021 in July this year, tourism minister Pohamba Shifeta said Namibia recorded a significant increase in tourist arrivals, which went up by 40,9%.
The tourist arrivals grew from 192,026 arrivals in 2020 to 270,644 arrivals in 2021.
Speaking to The Villager on Monday, the Hospitality Association of Namibia (HAN)’s chief executive officer, Gitta Paetzold, said any kind of addition to access Namibia is welcomed.
Paetzold said at the moment the rates of flights to South Africa through Doha are very expensive because of demand.
“Especially with Namibia’s connection to South Africa, it is absolutely welcome to see airlines servicing routes from South Africa to Namibia,” she said.
On the timing of the return of the route, she said South African tourists usually travel via road because they come to Namibia for fishing.
“For business, commercial and tourist purposes, added flights to Namibia are very welcomed, and for the festive season, it will benefit and boost our attractiveness as well. So, we are very happy about it,” she said.