By: Staff writer
Tourists coming into Namibia for business purposes continue to increase their share of the market after making up 17.3% of the total who entered the country in June.
In May, 9.52% of all tourists who came into Namibia were here for business reasons, which itself was an increase by 7.8 percentage points compared to the prior month.
Economist Angelique Bock at Simonis Storm Securities said, according to engagements with local travel agents and tour operators, tourists flocking into the country for business and conferences are increasing and are mainly associated with Namibia’s oil explorations and green hydrogen projects.
Tourists coming into the country for leisure constituted 80.4% of the market and 1.38% of visitors came for conferences in June.
However, southern Namibia, where the country’s largest green hydrogen project is planned, recorded the lowest occupancy rate at 39.2% in June, compared to 48.5% the previous month.
“This month, the northern area had the highest occupancy rate of 47.8% (4.3 percentage points lower than the previous month), followed by the coastal area at 42.6% (1.6 percentage points lower than the previous month) and the central area at 42.5% (12.4 percentage points lower than May 2023),” Bock stated.
Overall, occupancy rates only increased by a meagre 0.4 percentage point from May to June, (from 50.8% in May 2023 to 51.2%).
On an annual basis, however, occupancy rates paint a better picture as they have improved by 19.14 percentage points, from 32.1% in June 2022.
“YTD, occupancy rates are the highest on average since the pandemic, merely 3 percentage points shy of reaching levels of the first half of 2019. This signals that the recovery in the market has picked up and given that occupancy rates usually peak in the third quarter of each year, we believe that occupancy rates going forward should reach pre-pandemic levels in the third quarter of 2023,” the economist indicated.
She further opined that a lack of experienced managers is hampering the tourism sector.
During the peak of Covid-19, it was reported that almost 5,000 employees in the sector lost their jobs.
“These employees are not returning to the industry. After engaging various industry players, we understand that a significant number of hotel/lodge managers left Namibia to pursue job opportunities overseas. While many tourism graduates cannot find jobs due to lacking work experience, local hospitality establishments struggle to find adequate experts to train them,” Bock observed.
During their engagements with the industry, the Director of Tourism and Gaming, Sebulin Chicalu mentioned that tour guide training will be implemented to enhance the opportunities for graduates to find jobs.
“Furthermore, through the partnerships with Africa Tourism Partners, BDO and United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), graduates will be exposed to practical training with the purpose to close gaps in the tourism sector and to continue the legacy of the tourism industry in Namibia,” Chicalu concluded.