By: Hilma Tuukondjele
Environment and tourism minister Pohamba Shifeta says there was a 40.9 per cent increase in foreign arrivals, from 192,026 arrivals in 2020 to 270,644 arrivals in 2021.
He further said tourist arrivals had a substantial growth of 37.3 per cent. According to him, this growth is commendable considering the negative impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on the tourism sector globally in 2020 and 2021.
Shifeta, however, said that the number of tourist arrivals is not yet at the level it was before the Covid-19 pandemic in 2019. An increase such as this gives them an improved hope that the sector is on its way to recovery.
According to the tourist statistical report for 2021, tourists’ intended length of stay was 24 days on average.
It is compared to 19 days average length of stay for 2020.
African tourist source markets were dominated by arrivals from South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Botswana in 2021, whilst Germany, France, Switzerland, the USA and the United Kingdom made up the top five overseas tourist markets.
“A high number of tourist arrivals was recorded in the last quarter of the year, between October to December, accounting for 41.8 per cent of the total tourist arrivals, and there was an increase in the number of the average length of stay in Namibia to 24 days as compared to 19 days in 2020,” explained Shifeta.
Namibia has been reliant on inbound tourism (international travellers) over the years, but in recent years, experience has taught that equal focus and priority should as well be given to domestic tourism to minimise undesirable influences from crises such as those brought about by global pandemics, he said.
The report further revealed that South Africa remains the key African market to Namibia, bringing in about 47 per cent of total tourist arrivals in 2021. Angola, which usually forms part of the top African countries contributing to tourist arrivals to Namibia, did not cut it this year because of the closure of Angola’s borders aimed at combating the Covid-19 pandemic.
Germany from the overseas market maintained their position as the significant overseas tourist market, contributing 9.4 per cent to the total tourist arrivals.
“The overseas tourist arrivals in 2021 observed a 17.9 per cent increase from 2020. This group made up 30.1 per cent of total tourist arrivals,” said Shifeta.
The report states that the African and European markets gained a noticeable growth from the previous year, revealing a 45.2 per cent and 29.7 per cent change compared to 2020, respectively. North America brought in 0.2 per cent fewer tourist arrivals than last year. In 2021, the African market brought in about 69.9 per cent of tourist arrivals to Namibia, most of which came from the SADC countries. Europe, on the other hand, brought in 25.3 per cent of the total arrivals.
Tourists who came for holiday purposes comprised 42.2 per cent of total arrivals. Those who came for business followed in the second position with 28.5 per cent, while those who visited friends/relatives and other purposes comprised 24.0 per cent and 2.0 per cent, respectively.