By: Justicia Shipena
Namibia Tourism Board (NTB) says it only has funding for operations and salaries until November this year.
The chief executive officer Digu Naobeb confirmed this with The Villager on Tuesday.
The tourism board is the government agency responsible for bringing together both the private and public sector in implementing the national policy on tourism.
According to Naobeb, NTB has been engaging the government to alert them on the financial strains it is experiencing.
“They are considering our submission and they are yet to revert back to us on the amount that will be availed which can carry us through the rest of the financial year,” said Naobeb.
Naobeb added that 95% of the tourism income is dependent on tourism levies.
“This means, people who stay in hotels, lodges and B&B pay either a 1% or 2% on the amount they pay for accommodation,” he said.
Furthermore, he said that all tourists don’t stay in accommodation establishments as some reside on camping sites.
“Camping tourists don’t pay levies and that is the result of declining our income.”
He continued saying that since the beginning of the pandemic, NTB has been using its reserves saved over the years which carried them to date.
“If the tourists are not coming, we will not make levies. Currently, we are fighting for Namibia to be removed from the high-risk list in the United Kingdom, which is one of our primary markets where we get tourist,” he said.
Naobeb said if there are no funds allocated from the government, NTB will look at what the labour act provides for the industry.
“We have to see whether we will be sending staff on unpaid leave or part work as it is done right now in the entire tourism industry,” he said.
Naobeb added that retrenchment is not an option but they are working to secure employment for its employees.
“We will probably have to reduce working hours for the workers.”
Last year, NTB experienced a severe budget cut, which hampered its marketing efforts in various source markets.
The government allocated NTB N$3 million for the 2020/2021 financial year compared to N$4 million for 2019/2020.
Additionally, in the 2019/2020 financial year NTB collected about N$48 million in tourism levies which together with government allocation of N$4 million constituted a total budget of around N$52 million.
Last year Naobeb also stated that the NTB projects a collection in tourism levies of an amount of N$52 million for the 2020/2021 financial year.
During the celebration of World Tourism Day under the theme; ‘Tourism for Inclusive Growth,’ tourism minister, Pohamba Shifeta said although the sector has received few arrivals and declining activities in the last two years, a positive trend in international tourists’ arrivals is being observed since mid this year.
Namibia launched a domestic tourism campaign aimed at promoting tourism to the local travellers.
According to Shifeta the intervention strategy promotes Namibia’s tourism attractions to its residents and provides an opportunity for domestic travellers to capitalise on the generous travel incentives provided by the tourism sector.
Shifeta also requested for companies to hop on the boat to grow domestic travel market and build a resilient tourism sector in the near future.