The Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) has revealed that the number of Namibians exploring their own vast tourist attractions has gone down by 35.64% last year, showing a decline from the 40% of 2013.
“Though we recorded a slight decline in Namibians travelling locally from 2013 to 2014, it does not mean that Namibians are not travelling. Perhaps they used budget accommodation such as campsites”, Elise Hashikutuva, Director of Tourism at MET said.
She explained that tourists who used campsites were not recorded, as campsites are not paying the bed levy. In 2014, 35.64% out of all people who used registered accommodation establishments in the country were Namibians.
Domestic tourists generally are Namibians travelling and staying in places inside Namibia, but outside their usual environment for leisure, business, visiting friends and relatives as well as other purposes.
Hashikutuva said domestic tourism is important because it equalizes room occupancy throughout the country regardless of season to sustain durable tourism.
“Moreover, it enriches local knowledge of tourism attractions available. Over the last five years, the Namibia Tourism Board (NTB) started a campaign named ‘Local Tourism is Nawa’, whereby they urged industry partners to give discounted rates to Namibians travelling locally”, she noted.
Environment and Tourism Minister Pohamba Shifeta said although they have observed the slight decrease, they are happy with the way Namibians have been taking part in local tourism.
“We did not do enough research to get the whole percentage of local participation in tourism, but so far we are satisfied.
It is due to the drought we have been experiencing in our country, and it could also be the economic difficulties locals are faced with”, Shifeta said, adding that it might be that Namibians feel visiting tourist attractions is pricey.
“My view is that domestic tourism is on the increase. The reason this is the case is due to a number of local establishments realising the benefit of having targeted products or specials for the domestic market, who do not require much to go and experience our local beauty, as compared to an international tourist who would need to incur prior costs before coming to Namibia”, Mufaro Nesongano, Corporate Communications and Online Media Manager of the Namibia Wildlife Resorts (NWR) stated.
He added that another reason for the increase is the discount cards the NWR offers, which gives domestic tourists very attractive savings when they travel throughout Namibia.
Nesongano told The Villager that it makes no sense for someone else to have a greater appreciation for your country’s vast beauty, while you have not experienced it yet.
“It is also important because through taking part in tourist activities, you help sustain the industry during the low seasons”, he said.
Nesongano believes that it is cheaper for locals to tour Namibia, as opposed to travelling outside the country. “Also, when one compares the cost of having to travel outside the country as opposed to traveling locally and then benefitting the local economy, I certainly believe that local is lekker!”, he beamed.
According to the latest Travel & Tourism Economic Impact 2015 Namibia report released by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) earlier this year, leisure travel spending, including both arriving and domestic travellers, generated 80.3% of the direct travel and tourism’s contribution to the gross domestic product (GDP) last year, which amounted to N$12.995 billion, compared with 19.7% for business travel spending which was N$3.192 billion.