Minister of Environment and Tourism Uahekua Herunga told delegates at a Tourist Statistical Report launch that the growth of aviation cannot be recorded without a healthy growth in the tourism sector and vice versa.
The revamping of airports in order to boost tourism is going to be prioritized, Herunga said. According to tourist statistical report, poor connectivity, inadequate flight frequencies and the high cost of air travel and freight are some of the factors cited by aviation experts as deterrents to tourism growth. “Air connectivity and tourism are inseparable, the airline industry refers to them as passengers and we call them tourists,” said Herunga.
“We think it is high time that African airlines start working together and complement each other since they are competing with giant airlines,” he said. The 2012/2013 report indicates that more than over half of tourists entered Namibia through Hosea Kutako International airport which represents 27, 3% mode of transport used. Arrivals increased by 5, 5% from 2012 to 2013 and tourist figures increased by 9% for the same period.
Of particular note is that while over half of the tourists from Europe and North America visiting Namibia came through Hosea Kutako International airport, only 12% of Angolan and 20% of South African tourists travelling to Namibia used this entry point. Herunga pointed out that an ever increasing number of destinations worldwide have opened up and Namibia has to keep abreast of the development.
He said the opening up of destinations would turn tourism into a key driver of socio-economic progress through revenue generation, creation of jobs and infrastructure development. Among all tourists visiting Namibia, visiting friends and relatives were the largest number followed by holiday tourists. Up to 31, 1% of tourists during the period under review emanated from Northern border posts while 14, 4% came from Southern border posts. According to the UNWTO long term forecast, international tourist arrivals worldwide are expected to increase by 3, 3% a year from 2010 to 2030 to reach 1, 8 billion by 2030.
Trade and Industry minister Carl Schlettwein reiterated Herunga’s sentiments adding that the two main airports, Hosea Kutako and Eros airports needed refurbishment while more agreements between government and airlines would have to be made for them to fly directly to these airports. “If I look around the world, all logistical hubs successfully managed to link all modes of transport in an integrated manner. If Namibia is to satisfy its ambitions of becoming a logistical hub, we must improve the airline link through modernisation of our airports,” said Schlettwein.
He said an arrangement had already been made to increase more flights by Turkish airlines to fly directly into Namibia while more airlines would be engaged. In March this year, Air Namibia and Lufthansa concluded an interline agreement, which effectively offers passengers a ‘one stop’ flight between Windhoek and up to 28 European countries.
According to the 2012/2013 Tourist Statistical Report, a total of 153 891 people from Africa alone flew into Namibia effectively surpassing Western markets of Europe and North America which recorded 130 216 and 14 957 respectively. This is in contrast to the 136 872 people who flew in from Africa in 2012 while a total of 130 888 European and a paltry 4006 North American visitors entered the country by air.
On the one hand, most tourists from Europe, North America and regions other than Africa travelled to Namibia by air and this accounted for 6 persons out of every 10 tourists. On the other hand, 83% of African tourists travelling to Namibia arrived by road and 98% of them came from bordering countries.