’Namibia Needs More Flights to Europe’

Although Namibia, as a tourist destination, has been praised as having improved drastically in terms of foreign arrivals, the country still needs more direct flights to European and North American markets.

The Minister of Environment and Tourism, Pohamba Shifeta, said North America among other countries like China, Russia, the United Arab Emirates and SADC states, has been identified as an emerging source market and efforts to lay the groundwork to attract visitors to Namibia are being rolled out.

Since there are no direct flights to these countries, Shifeta said Air Namibia is collaborating with other airlines to increase connectivity and airlift.

Statistics for 2013 show that foreign arrivals for Namibia went up by 1.3 million annually. This, Shifeta said, is an indication that “we are doing well, because our target within five years is to reach up to two million”.

He noted that it is possible to reach the two million target because Namibia has opened new markets, namely North America and the Asian market.

“We are getting more visitors from there. Our tourists traditionally are mostly from Europe, we are trying to work with our stakeholders in Europe and North America, but the problem is how people travel to get here. The flight inflow is very low,” he said.

Currently, Air Namibia’s only European route is Frankfurt, Germany.

“We also have Lufthansa but it will be good to have a condor. And we hope we can have more inflow of flights from Europe and connect flights coming from North America because Air Namibia is small. South Africa has put strict measures on visas requirements and it has cut and affected our tourist arrivals. Most of our travel arrivals come from South and only a few come directly to Namibia,” he maintained. The Namibia Tourism Board (NTB) has been pursuing ger growth by spending about N$35 million on destination marketing.

The ministry said while taking into account the need to sustain the current source markets, which include Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy, France and South Africa, the NTB has also considered the diversification options to increase tourist arrivals. Shifeta also said there is need to train immigration officials at entry points around the country to be friendlier when welcoming visitors.

“I am planning to have a stakeholders’ meeting this year with all the tourism and travel industries and see how we can put minds together. There are also important aspects we don’t look at. We need to understand that from customs, immigration and police officers [they need to] know how to create conducive hospitality at entry points.

“We need to start training our officials on values to treat our tourists properly at entry points. You don’t have to be seen with an angry face all the time because of security (reasons), you have be seen appealing at entry points. First impression is there. Our hotels training is also not up to standard,” he alluded.

He went on to say, “I always tell people we have many academies for hospitality, but a person is there but it’s like a dead someone in a hotel or restaurant. He said the attitude of “I don’t need you here” is not welcome in Namibia.

“It’s like you are passing through Frankfurt, those people seem like they don’t need [you]. They never laugh or smile, they mistreat people and we Namibians don’t need to have that kind of attitude. People should be accommodative and then we can have our tourism industry booming although it is okay,” he remarked.

Another concern he raised is that the Tourism Board does not get enough resources but it is something the ministry has started working on.

“I think some of these establishments are cheating. If you look at tourist arrivals, only a few will be camping most will be sleeping in hotels. So how much were you supposed to make if the levy is N$7. I think some of these establishments are cheating, I think they have two receipt books and only give one.

I asked them to do something because it is not even 20 percent generated. They should improve on that and collect more. We are trying to see what we can do to improve the situation,” he noted.

Source : New Era