Tourism bookings for 2018 “almost” sold out

The local hospitality sub-sector is almost fully booked for 2018 already and arrangements for the reception of tourists in 2019 are underway as tourists continue to flock into the country.

Hospitality Association of Namibia’s (HAN) chief executive officer, Gitta Paetzold, said last year the local industry could not accommodate all the tourists due to overwhelmed accommodation infrastructure making 2016 Namibia’s bumper year.

“2018 is almost sold out, we are looking to 2019.We did very well also this year, we have challenges because of tourism over-load. People think we have so much demand than we can supply in certain areas so we have to be very careful. Many people say they are building lodges and that is not sufficient to manage our infrastructure,” she said. 

Namibia’s main market is in central Europe, that is Switzerland, Austria and Germany, South Africa also because a lot of people come by road.

Standard Bank’s head of strategic sector, Manus Grobler said, “This major industry, contributes in excess of 15% of the gross domestic product. Annually over one million travelers visit Namibia, with large numbers from South Africa, Germany and finally the United Kingdom, Italy and France.”

Paetzold said the local tourism market has also picked up significantly, after so much criticism that the industry does not favour its own people.

“Many Namibians have actually resorted to being tourists in their country which makes them to become ambassadors for their own country and that’s what we need to actually grow the image of Namibia,” she said.

The local regulators are currently dealing with how best to regulate the new Air BnB phenomenon but has received a backlash from private players “for trying to monopolise the sector and killing private business”.

But Paetzold believes mutual understanding between Namibia Tourism Board (NTB) and these businesses should aid the promotion of destination Namibia.

“It’s a difficult challenge that we have faced now. Namibia is not alone, we’ve seen a lot of outcry in big cities like Barcelona and New York, trying to regulate, and Berlin has put regulation as well. We don’t want to stop that because it’s an international phenomenon. Namibia has very good regulation in terms of standards and quality control and that should apply to all. In terms of the Air BnB, they need to register with NTB,” she said.

Meanwhile HAN will be hosting its conference towards the end of this month topped with a gala dinner and the O&L group and Standard Bank have bankrolled the event to the tune of N$130 000 and N$80 000 respectively.

“We are very excited. We didn’t see that kind of partnership given the very difficult economic time that Namibia is in but with the special partnership that we have managed to build over thirty years, it just shows that at such times we can stand up together and make things happen so we are very excited about this,” said Paetzold. 

HAN marks 30 years in the tourism and hospitality industry.