The national occupancy rate for the first quarter of 2023 displayed excellent results since the start of the global Covid-19 pandemic.
In the first quarter of 2023, the occupancy rate was on average 36.5%, according to a Simonis Storm Securities report.
“Nonetheless, this is the best first quarter occupancy rate since the onset of the pandemic, and so the local tourism sector is off to a good start in the New Year,” the reportsaid.
The report said traveller arrivals continue to show promise and are expected to increase in 2023.
Last month it was reported that Namibia’s tourist arrival numbers increased by 37.3% since 2021 and has seen the country receive a total of 243,466 tourists in 2022.
During the first two months of 2023, there were averages of 11,431 foreign arrivals each month as opposed to an average of 5,223 for the same period in 2022.
The number of visitors from outside the country rose by 107% year-on-year in February of this year.
“Foreign arrivals in the last 12 months account for about 82% of pre-pandemic levels, implying that most of the recovery has been achieved, whereas regional arrivals have reached about 79% of pre-pandemic levels,” the report stated.
In addition, the nationwide hospitality establishments had an occupancy rate of 40.7% in March 2023, as opposed to 31.7% in February and 39.4% in March 2022.
The Simonis Storm anticipates improved growth in occupancy rates in the second and third quarters of 2023 to follow the pre-pandemic trend as Namibia’s peak travel season begins the following month.
In March 2023, Namibia’s central region had the greatest occupancy rate at 52.7%, followed by the southern region at 41.1% and the coastal region at 39.7%.
“In contrast, the northern area had the lowest occupancy rate of 34.6%, almost 20% points below the central area,” the report pointed out.
However, the financial research agency said there has been a substantial increase in occupancy rates across all areas except the coastal area when compared to 12 months ago.
The Northern region, which saw a fall in occupancy rate of 32.4% quarter over quarter, was the major factor contributing to the decline in occupancy rate on an annual basis.
This decline, the firm said, can be attributed to the high base provided by the festive season.
“In March 2023, there was a substantial increase of 32% year-on-year in the number of rooms sold, from 16,820 to 22,286 rooms.”
Despite this growth, the firm indicated, the numbers are still below pre-pandemic levels.
Simonis Storm said the number of beds sold has increased by 40% year-on-year, from 28,167 beds sold in March 2022 to 39,524 beds sold in March 2023.
“Similarly, the number of beds sold has risen by 40% year-on-year, with 39,524 beds sold in March 2023 compared to 28,167 beds sold in March 2022.”
Moreover, leisure tourism continues to be the primary driver of tourism, with travel accounting for 91.9% of visitors in March 2023, while business travellers and conference goers made up the remaining 2.1% and 6.3%, respectively, of the total.
The report said March 2023 had the greatest number of visitors at 39% from Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, with locals at 27% and South Africans 9%, following.
Environment Minister Pohamba Shifeta revealed that six schemes that will be carried out with N$595 million budgeted for the 2023/24 financial year.
These government led initiatives, Simonis Storm said, should complement private sector projects and strategies to market Namibia as a safe destination with untouched natural environments.
According to Johanness !Gawaxab, Governor of the Bank of Namibia, sustained economic growth is supported by growth in a number of industries, notably tourism.