Oil and gas sector activities boost tourist arrivals

February 21, 2023 872

Hospitality establishments nationwide have started to experience the positive effects of Namibia's Oil and Gas sector activities as certain hospitality establishments indicate that pilot projects as well as government’s green hydrogen projects have increased the number of their guests.

According to Research Firm Simonis Storm, while business and conference tourism is still below 2019 levels, other catalysts for business or conference tourism could be oil operations and the US embassy in Windhoek.

"We remain confident that tourism could arguably be one of the best performing sectors of the Namibian economy in 2023," said the firm’s Economist Theo Klein.

This comes as early signs show continued recovery in the local tourism sector and potentially growth, with 2023 being the first year not plagued by a variant of covid at the start of the year since 2020.

The research firm reports that occupancy rates at nationwide hospitality establishments in January 2023 were higher than pre-pandemic years, however slightly below January 2020’s level.

Occupancy rates at nationwide hospitality establishments stood at 37.1% in January 2023, compared to 37.9% in the prior month and 18.5% a year ago according to HAN data.

The share of Namibians visiting hospitality establishments decreased from 43.0% in December 2022 to 29.6% in January 2023, normalising as travel over the festive holidays came to an end.

As usual, most visitors came from Namibia’s main tourist source markets, with 31.6% of visitors coming from Germany, Switzerland and Austria, South Africa (11.0%), the US and Canada (3.3%) and the UK and Ireland (2.0%).

"Despite economic and energy challenges in Europe (Namibia’s main tourist source market), general commentary from foreign tourist operators indicate that there is still high demand for travel to parts such as Southern Africa and especially Namibia. Projections for 2023 are therefore cautiously positive," said Klein.

Meanwhile, Namibia participated in the Africa Eden initiative which aims to attract tourists from other markets such as the US and Central and Southern America.

Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe are all participating in this initiative and united about 100 international travel agents with tourism product owners for promotion and marketing at the end of November 2022.

However, most Central and Southern American countries need visas to come to Namibia.

This prevents spontaneous travelling decisions not just for the newly targeted markets, but also the usual tourist source markets.

"Visa on arrival would therefore need to be possible for everyone at all border crossing/posts and not just in Windhoek at the Hosea Kutako International Airport (as is currently the case). The other option is to remove the visa requirement for targeted source markets and market Namibia as an open, welcoming and accessible destination. However, this might be harder to achieve," said Klein.

He added that targeting tourists from alternative source markets will also assist Namibia to even out the seasonality trends in tourist inflows.

Typically, tourist inflows are concentrated in Namibia’s peak season May to September which is Europe’s Summer holiday season.
Consequently, the Africa Eden initiative tries to market Namibia as an “all year” tourist destination as well, given that Summer seasons with Latin America coincide.

"We therefore remain positive on the local tourism sector and expect to see improved performance in 2023 taking the above into consideration. Given the wide value chain of tourism, we expect positive spill over benefits to provide momentum to complementary industries or sectors of our economy in 2023," he said.

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Last modified on Wednesday, 22 February 2023 19:48