Namibia recorded a 98.1% increase in inbound tourist arrivals last year, according to the 2022 Tourism Arrival Statistical Report released in August.
Tourist arrivals grew from 232 756 in 2021 to 461 027 in 2022. This is, however, far from the 1 681 336 foreign visitors achieved in 2019 (pre-pandemic).
“With the sector’s recovery gaining momentum, the ministry encourages destination managers, tour operators, and all relevant stakeholders to develop new products, routes, and additional destinations. This will enhance the visitor experience and make ‘Destination Namibia’ more appealing to repeat visitors,” said the Minister of Environment, Forestry, and Tourism, Pohamba Shifeta.
The country’s top-ten tourist source markets in 2022 were South Africa, Angola, Germany, Zambia, Botswana, France, the UK, US, Italy, and Switzerland.
“Travel season data revealed that 53.1% of tourists travelled between September and December, 36.1% between May and August, and 10.8% between January and April,” said the report.
Shifeta added that the country’s tourism sector had the potential to benefit from opportunities within the domestic and inter-regional markets. Therefore, it’s crucial to increase the country’s marketing efforts to boost demand for travel among locals and regional markets, aiming for robust and sustainable tourism.
The ministry was currently implementing the Tourism Sector Recovery Plan, which outlined a framework for policy interventions and strategic programmes to support each stage of the recovery phase, concluded Shifeta.
Windhoek connex ramp up
With flights to Namibia ramping up, tourist numbers should grow further this year.
Namibian business news site, The Brief (www.thebrief.com.na), reports that KLM, Edelweiss, FlySafair and Zambia Airways are planning flights to Windhoek.
Namibian Airports Company (NAC) CEO, Bisey Uirab, was quoted saying the Zambian government had already communicated its intention to launch the Lusaka-Windhoek route. Details and schedules are as yet unknown.
Uirab revealed too that Edelweiss and KLM were expected to commence flights to Namibia within the 12 months from July.
“As part of the NAC's Route Development initiative, management met with five airlines in Europe – in particular, British Airways, Condor Airlines, Edelweiss, Eurowings Discover and KLM, in April 2023, to prepare the groundwork for future international flights from these potential (and existing) carriers. As an outflow of the said Route Development initiative major airlines such as Edelweiss and KLM are expected to commence flight operations to Namibia within the next twelve months,” he said.
Zimbabwean national airline Air Zimbabwe has also been linked with plans to start flights between Harare and Windhoek to take advantage of a gap in the market left by the collapse of Air Namibia.
South African privately owned low-cost carrier FlySafair has its own plans to offer daily flights from Johannesburg to Windhoek by the third quarter of this year. FlySafair also has permission to fly from Cape Town to Windhoek.
Lufthansa Group has increased its Eurowings Discover frequencies to 10 weekly flights, including the Victoria Falls route, until the end of October.
Ethiopian Airlines now has seven flights weekly into Windhoek.