Health

Kunene craft industry severely affected by COVID-19

Summary

The lack of tourist activity due to COVID-19 has had a severe impact on the craft industry in the Kunene Region, the chairperson of the Kunene Regional Craftsmen Association, Harry Gamseb has said.Gamseb in an interview with Nampa on Monday said touris…

The lack of tourist activity due to COVID-19 has had a severe impact on the craft industry in the Kunene Region, the chairperson of the Kunene Regional Craftsmen Association, Harry Gamseb has said.

Gamseb in an interview with Nampa on Monday said tourist activity is at a virtual standstill despite the borders reopening, and people making a living by selling crafts no longer have a source of income.

The association has more than 150 registered members.

“The income of all craftsmen has been affected negatively. Some of the craft centres in the region have closed down since the start of the pandemic in Namibia last year. Craftsmen selling craft such as makalani nuts on the side of the road in Kunene have closed down their stands as well. Our only hope is economic recovery,” he said.

Gamseb said their customers are mainly international tourists as Namibian tourists are few and far between.

Ellia Aebeb, who sells his wares at the Khorixas Craft Centre, said there is still no hope for them.

“I have not seen any tourist coming to the centre to purchase crafts. I have lost hope. I come to the centre every day hoping that we get customers, but there is still no luck. Hopefully during the course of the year we might get customers,” he said.

Alfrieda Gaes, who sells dolls dressed in African attire, said there is no use in making more dolls.

“I still have about 20 dolls that I made last year. This is my only source of income. I used to employ people with the income I generated, now I am unable to generate any income,” she said.

Approached for comment, Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism spokesperson Romeo Muyunda said for 2020, statistics showed a year-on-year drop of over 80 per cent in hotel and other short-stay occupancy rates.

“Not surprisingly, there were very few international tourist arrivals given the restrictions imposed such as compulsory testing for COVID-19 at the borders, as well as social distancing measures. Of further concern is the fact that tourism is projected to recover much slower than other sectors. Despite borders in Namibia and many other countries reopening during 2020, the fallout from the pandemic will continue to severely impact the sector well into 2021,” he said.

Source: Namibia Press Agency