Tourism minister Pohamba Shifeta says Qatar Airways will resume flights from Doha to Windhoek later this year.
Shifeta said this during the Namibia Travel and Tourism Seminar at the ongoing Expo 2020 Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.
According to Shifeta, Doha-Windhoek flights will resume around June or July 2022.
Speaking at the seminar, Shifeta said that Qatar Airways’ introduction would increase trade, business, and leisure voyages between the two countries.
He said although Namibia did not receive significant arrivals from United Arab Emirates (UAE) in the past, the return is a relief.
“The tourism and business sectors are delighted to their return of Qatar Airways to Windhoek as this flight will increase seat capacity to reach Namibia,” he said.
Pohamba further added that this would solve current air connectivity challenges and the lack of flight seats.
“This will undoubtedly open-air access to Namibia to UAE or Middle East markets and vice versa,” he said.
Shifeta stated that the return also supports Namibia’s national tourism recovery strategy and initiatives.
Namibia’s foreign arrivals had declined in 2020. However, it has experienced an increase of 37.4% last year.
Speaking to The Villager on Thursday, founder of Namibia Travel And Tourism Forum Nrupesh Soni said the return of the Qatari flights gives Namibia an optimistic hope for revival and recovery of tourism.
“At this stage, just to know that Qatar is flying directly adds to where we were pre the pandemic,” he said.
Russia-Ukraine war strains air traffic and tourism
However, Soni said that the Russia-Ukraine conflict has not harshly affected flight traffic to Namibia.
“The problem is that many Russians that were coming for hunting have cancelled. I know a company with a big group of hunters have cancelled because of the conflict,” he stated.
He further said Namibia had many Eastern European Russians coming into Namibia, and tourism would be impacted.
“However, people maybe wouldn’t want to travel if the war intensifies.”
Soni said there is a chance tourists will still come to Namibia. However, there are reciprocations.
“Considering Namibia has abstained from voting, which has a bit of negative view from some countries. It impacts tourism. We decided according to our constitution, and of course, it looks different when you have to choose a side, but it might have little impact.”
Soni added that there are a lot of implications in the matter.
“Russia has always been a good market for some sub-sectors of tourism. When we were red-listed last year because of Omicron, we survived on Russian and Eastern European tourists,” he explained.
Thus, he said Namibia received a massive influx of Russian tourists to Namibia.
“It was times more than previous Decembers, and we had a couple of Russian vloggers that attracted people to Namibia, but now I think we have to go back to the drawing board.”
Soni also said the use of money has to be put in perspective.
“Russia has imposed limits on how much money a Russian can take overseas. The cards are cut off, and some people can’t use their money.”