Angolans Top Tourism List (allAfrica.com)

Angolans topped the list of visitors to Namibia last year with a total of 470 747 people having come from the northern neighbour.

Angolans often visit Namibia for shopping sprees and medical services and not necessarily for leisure purposes.

Presenting the 2014 Tourist Statistical report on Tuesday, tourism minister Pohamba Shifeta said the shopping sprees by the Angolans were welcome as they immensely contributed to the country’s foreign exchange earnings.

“We should ensure that every new tourist visiting Namibia is given the best experience possible so that they become a returning friend,” Shifeta advised.

Shifeta defined a tourist as “any visitor to a country other than that of his/her residence for more than one night but less than 12 months and whose main purpose of visit is other than the exercise of an activity remunerated from within the place visited”.

According to the report, the country has been receiving more Angolan than European tourists. The ministry said arrivals to Namibia have generally increased from around 1,18 million in 2013 to about 1,32 million in 2014 which represents a 12% increase.

Of this figure, Angola accounted for the greater part of the arrivals followed by South Africa, Zambia, Germany, United Kingdom and the United States of America.

The report says Angolans accounted for 40% of tourist arrivals. Germany topped the list for overseas tourists followed by the United Kingdom.

“The data further shows that regardless of their origin, most tourists visited Namibia during May and September (winter season), which accounted for 42% of all tourists travelling to Namibia,” said Shifeta.

Shifeta said the figures tell a positive story of the Namibian tourism sector which he says has grown over the past five years.

“This speaks volumes and we hope the tourism industry will take heart in these figures and continue working to grow tourism in Namibia as a preferred destination in Africa,” he said.

The minister said the figures also show substantial increases since independence in 1990.

“We have seen a steady increase in tourist arrivals since we started recording the statistics, noting that in 1992, we received 220 000 tourists,” he said.

Shifeta was however not certain if the figures could have been higher had it not been for the outbreak of the Ebola disease in West Africa last year, and could only guess that the Ebola scare might have slightly affected the inflow of tourists to Namibia.

He was however certain that the country would have hit the one million mark in 2010 had it not been for the World Cup in South Africa that provided a counter-attraction.

“However, we recovered, and today we are celebrating 1,5 million tourists to the Land of the Brave or rather Destination Namibia. This is not bad, given that the population of Namibia was 1,6 million at independence,” he said.

He however said the country needs to enhance its image in terms of promotion and marketing to deepen its position as a destination and diversify its tourism products, address seasonality and managing growth strategically.

Tourism has been highlighted as one of the key economic sectors for the growth of the National Development Plan 4. Shifeta revealed that for every 12 tourists arriving in the country, one job is created. He said overall, some 27% of all employment in Namibia is related to travel and tourism.

“We need to especially focus on attracting tourists to the regions and rural areas where today we see only 4% of the total beds available in Namibia for tourism,” he said.

The tourism report also indicates that more tourists entered Namibia through the Hosea Kutako International Airport which represents 24% of receipts.